Directly elected mayors would earn TD salary under new plans

Mayors would be ‘targetted’ powers on almost all matters except planning

Minister of State for Local Government John Paul Phelan is expected to bring a memo on potential powers for directly elected mayors which are proposed for Cork, Limerick and Waterford. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Minister of State for Local Government John Paul Phelan is expected to bring a memo on potential powers for directly elected mayors which are proposed for Cork, Limerick and Waterford. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Directly elected mayors would be given “targeted” powers and earn the same salary as a TD under plans due to be discussed by the Cabinet on Wednesday.

It is expected that the Minister of State for Local Government John Paul Phelan will bring a memo on potential powers for directly elected mayors which are proposed for Cork, Limerick and Waterford.

Voters in Cork city, Limerick city and county and Waterford city and county are to be asked their views in a plebiscite on creating the positions on the same day as the local and European elections, May 24th.

The prospect of a directly elected mayor for Dublin has been referred to a citizens’ assembly, which is expected to be convened this year.

Officials in Mr Phelan’s department have been examining two plans to give the mayors powers on almost everything except planning matters, or alternatively to give them “targeted” powers.

It is expected that the Cabinet will approve the latter, sources say. This would mean they would have powers, for example, in areas such as transport and economic development.

A source said that talks would have to take place with State agencies such as the National Transport Authority to ensure no overlap of functions between them and the mayors.

The mayors are unlikely to have any role in relation to housing functions but would have responsibility for drafting their council’s budget.

Concerns

The plans for fully directly elected mayors were first mooted in the programme for government as part of a range of local government reforms.

Mr Phelan in January gave the Seanad an indication of what plans were being considered for the roles.

“The directly elected mayor would be a member of the council and continue to perform the functions currently exercised by local authority cathaoirligh, mayors and lord mayors, including reserved functions,” he said.

“This would encompass a civic and representational role where the mayor would act as the face of the local authority, both domestically and internationally.”

Mr Phelan said that given the potentially wide range of functions performed by local authorities, the directly elected mayor’s role would have to be supported by a chief executive officer.

Concerns have been raised over the last number of months that not enough information has been put into the public domain in order for the electorate to be fully informed ahead of May’s vote.

The Cork Mayor Campaign on Tuesday reiterated a call for the Government to publish its proposals and to hold information events for the public.

Mr Phelan said last month that he plans to hold a series of town hall meetings on the subject.