Directly Elected Mayor for Limerick to be given significant powers
- Government aims to legislate to enable first election for directly mayor to take place before end of this year. First mayoral term will last until 2029.
- Minister Burke publishes Implementation Advisory Group report.
The Government has today approved the drafting of legislation for the new role of a directly elected mayor for Limerick City and County with executive functions (responsibilities). The Minister of State for Local Government and Planning, Peter Burke, today confirmed that the legislation required to enable the first election for a directly elected mayor will be advanced as quickly as possible, with the aim of an election taking place before the end of 2021. As the role is due to come into existence in the middle of the local government electoral cycle the first mayoral term will run until the local elections of 2029.
In line with the IAG’s recommendations, the Government has decided that the directly elected mayor will have many of the executive functions currently held by the local authority’s Chief Executive. These areas include: housing and building; road transport and safety; strategic development and environmental services. Minister Burke laid the IAG’s report (available shortly here) before the Houses of the Oireachtas today.
The Government today also sanctioned Government Departments to explore the potential transfer of additional functions to a directly elected mayor for Limerick once the role has been created.
The proposed legislation will be consistent with the IAG’s recommended governance structures. These will include:
- The directly elected mayor being empowered to develop a ‘Programme for Local Government in Limerick’, a programme setting out the mayor’s vision and ambitions for Limerick, for approval by the elected council.
- The mayor being responsible for drafting the local authority’s annual budget, for approval by the elected council.
- The Chief Executive (to be re-named a ‘Director General’) retaining responsibility for functions such as managing and accounting for the council’s finances.
- The elected council retaining its reserved functions.
Speaking after the Government’s decision to approve legislative drafting, Minister Burke said: “Today’s decision marks the next step towards the people of Limerick having a directly elected mayor with significant powers. Having a directly elected mayor will enable the people of Limerick to have a greater say over how services and infrastructure are delivered and how Limerick develops. The new role will be a starting point, a basis on which more powers will be decentralised to Limerick over time, possibly including greater financial autonomy.
“I want to again thank the implementation advisory group, chaired by Tim O’Connor, for its work in producing the report. The Government has accepted the recommendations on how the council should be structured. Some of the report recommendations would have far-reaching consequences and require further consideration.”
Minister Burke and the Government aims to publish legislation in the second quarter of this year. This legislation, if enacted, would enable the Programme for Government commitment to an election for a directly elected mayor in Limerick in 2021 to be met.
Note to editors
- Implementation Advisory Group Report: A copy of the Implementation Advisory Group's report, and more information on the envisaged role will be available shortly here. On 24 May 2019, the people of Limerick voted in favour of a proposal for the establishment of an office of directly elected mayor with executive functions. The Programme for Government commits to passing legislation to allow the first directly elected mayor for Limerick to be elected in 2021.
- Mayor executive functions: The directly elected mayor will have responsibility for most of the executive functions currently carried out by the Chief Executive, including, at a strategic and policy level, in the areas of:
- housing and building
- road transport and safety
- water services
- strategic management
- environmental services
- recreation and amenity
- agriculture, education, health and welfare
- miscellaneous services
- Programme for Local Government in Limerick: The directly elected mayor will be responsible for the local authority’s revenue and capital budgets. He or she will have the ability to develop a ‘Programme for Local Government in Limerick’, a programme setting out the mayor’s vision and ambitions for Limerick City and County, and present it to the elected council for approval. The programme will also set out the directly elected mayor’s objectives for their term in office.
- Annual budget: It is proposed that the directly elected mayor would be responsible for drafting the local authority's annual budget and present it to the elected council for adoption. The annual budget will still have to be adopted by a simple majority of the elected council.
- Other duties of a directly elected mayor: The directly elected mayor will be responsible for most of the duties currently vested in the Cathaoirleach outside of the council chamber. He or she will be an ex officio member of the council and will be able to vote in relation to all matters except where the vote relates to the council's oversight role in respect of the directly elected mayor.
- Future responsibilities of the elected council: The elected council’s reserved functions will not change. These include adopting the council’s annual budget; adopting council policies; altering the Local Property Tax rate; and making a City and County Development Plan.
- Future powers: In parallel with the drafting of this legislation Government departments will continue consulting on the potential assignment of additional powers and functions to a directly elected mayor.
- Future responsibilities of Chief Executive: The role of the Chief Executive will change and will differ significantly from that of Chief Executives in other local authorities. Recognising its vital role in the new local authority’s architecture, and the likely enhancement of the role, the IAG proposes that the current position of Chief Executive in Limerick will be re-titled ‘Director General’ and its conditions upgraded. The Chief Executive will retain responsibility for specified functions, including:
- managing and accounting for the council's finances;
- HR and local authority staffing matters;
- administration of individual schemes and allocation of individual grants;
- legal proceedings and enforcement matters relating to individual schemes or grants.
- Legislation: The legislation that will now be drafted will provide for:
- a directly elected mayor with executive functions for Limerick City and County
- an electoral code to facilitate the holding of mayoral elections in Limerick City and County
- provisions to allow for the holding of plebiscites in other jurisdictions in 2024 as outlined in the Programme for Government. (Plebiscites will be facilitated if there is a positive resolution from the relevant council or by a petition from a minimum of 20% of the registered electors.)
- Implementation Advisory Group: The IAG was established in December 2019 to advise the Minister on how to shape the role of a directly elected mayor for Limerick. The Group was chaired by Mr Tim O’Connor and was representative of the main stakeholders in Limerick. It consulted widely with the business community, academic institutions, public service providers, and community and political representatives in Limerick. It also commissioned a public consultation exercise, undertaken by the University of Limerick, which sought to “start a conversation” on the potential of a Directly Elected Mayor for Limerick. The consultation was unique in that, due to the pandemic, it was a fully interactive, real-time consultation carried out on a wholly digital platform.
FAQs - Legislation for a Directly Elected Mayor with Executive Functions for Limerick City and County Council