“Urgent” action is needed if Government plans to hold a vote on directly-elected mayors in Waterford Cork, Galway and Limerick, are to go ahead, a confidential Cabinet memo states.
According to the Irish Examiner, the memo reveals that Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has been criticised by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe for repeatedly failing to bring forward costings to allow the plebiscites to go ahead.
It is planned that the votes in those cities would go ahead on the same day as the local and European elections in May.
However, the memo warns: “Urgent enactment of the bill is required to facilitate the implementation of the boundary alteration for the purposes of the election of a new Cork City and County Council at the end of May 2019.”
The paper also reports that the memo includes concerns from both Attorney General Seamus Woulfe and Mr Donohoe.
The Attorney General notes that that the policy and decision-making in respect of the powers which a directly elected mayor may have and his or her relationship with the elected members were not included in the memo and therefore “due to circumstances outside of our control” the time for examining this memo and its proposals has been relatively short.
Meanwhile, a Waterford councillor has called on the Minister for Local Government to ensure that only poll-toppers can apply to become a directly-elected mayor.
Independent councillor Joe Conway was the people’s first choice in Tramore and Waterford City West in 2014.
He believes other councillors should be barred from standing: “the five candidates with the five highest votes relative to quota would be considered for the five mayoralties in the following year rather than people with a handful of votes taking the mayoralties”.
The idea received backing from another poll-topper, City South’s John Hearne of Sinn Féin.
Minister for Local Government John Paul Phelan introduced the paper proposing directly-elected mayors.
He told Councillor Conway that he’s unsure of the idea and he didn’t have the power to instruct the Attorney General to change the system. But he said he understood the point being made.