Local and European elections to take place on May 24th

Day sets up to be ‘super Friday’ with referendum and plebiscites on three city mayors

Eoghan Murphy (left), Minister for Local Government, signed orders setting the day for polling, while Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan (right) will bring proposals to Cabinet about modernising divorce arrangements. Photograph: Alan Betson

Local and European elections will take place on Friday, May 24th, after the Minister for Housing and Local Government Eoghan Murphy signed orders on Monday setting the day for polling – setting up a "super Friday" which will also see a referendum and plebiscites on directly elected mayors in three cities.

Mr Murphy also nominated a number of officials to act as returning officers for the three European Parliament constituencies – Dublin, Ireland South and Ireland Midlands-North-West. Voters will elect 13 MEPs though if the UK decides to hold European Parliament elections, it is possible that two of those MPs could be obliged to wait until the UK leaves the EU before they can take their seats.

The Government will await a ruling from the European Commission on arrangements when the UK decision becomes clear. At last week's EU summit in Brussels, it was agreed that the UK must decide by April 12th if it wishes to hold European elections.

Voters will also elect 949 members to 31 local authorities on May 24th for a five-year term, while voters in Limerick, Cork and Waterford will be asked in plebiscites if they wish to see legislation which would provide for directly elected mayors for their cities.


In addition, a referendum on changing the constitutional arrangements for divorce will be held on the same day.


The Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan will bring detailed proposals to Cabinet on Tuesday explaining plans to amend a private members' Bill to modernise the State's divorce arrangements. The Bill was originally brought by Josepha Madigan, then a Fine Gael backbencher, now the Minister for Arts and Culture.

The referendum proposes to remove from the Constitution the minimum four year living-apart period contained in Article 41.3.2 and will also replace the existing recognition of foreign divorces with updated provisions.

The other constitutional requirements – that only a court may grant a divorce, that there is no prospect of reconciliation and that there will be proper provision for the spouses and children – will continue in force as part of the Constitution.

The effect of the proposed amendment to Article 41.3.2 will be that the Constitution would no longer provide for a minimum living apart period, but that such a period could be defined in law by the Oireachtas.

With arrangements for the 2019 local elections now set, Mr Murphy also clarified the time period during which candidates can exhibit election posters, his department said.

“Candidates can only erect posters from April 24th 2019, which is 30 days before the polling date. There is a requirement for candidates to remove all posters within seven days of the poll,” it said in a statement.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times