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Naughton calls for directly elected Mayor for Galway

5th September 2018 - Hildegarde Naughton TD

A DIRECTLY elected Mayor for Galway would mean voters have the power to effect change in their city, Fine Gael TD Hildegarde Naughton has said.

Deputy Naughton is fully in favour of a proposal made by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to hold a plebiscite on a directly elected Mayor for Galway next year.

Her party leader made the proposal in a letter to Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. The proposal is part of a package to extend the Confidence and Supply arrangement which copper-fastens the lifetime of the current Government. The current arrangement is due to expire this year.

“I was honoured and privileged to serve as Mayor of Galway in 2011/12. Being Mayor of such a fantastic city something I will always look back on with immense pride.

“However, I am also aware of the limitations of the role. Being elected Mayor confers no additional power or ability to change policy or drive any particular aspect of policy forward. The power is entirely one of persuasion.

“The office holder has only one year in which to persuade the executive of the City Council of the merits of a particular course of action. They also have to persuade each and every member of the City Council, of all parties and none, of the wisdom of a particular policy.

“During my time as Mayor I devoted huge time and energy to alleviating the traffic congestion in the city. I tried my utmost, improvements were made, but yet the problem continues. I also tried to promote a dedicated music and arts performance centre, in addition to a conference centre, to accommodate major events. Additionally, I had intended advancing a number of other projects including the provision of a greenway, improvements in our city waterways, and park-and-ride facilities in strategic locations to the west, east, and north of the city. These projects could not be brought forward owing to the office of Mayor possessing neither sufficient time in office or powers to effect change.

“In nearly every way that matters, the council executive holds the reins of power and councillors, and particularly the Mayor, do not have sufficient powers to affect change.

“An elected Mayor, with additional powers, for Galway would change that dynamic utterly. It would see the Mayor responsible to the entire electorate of Galway, not just a particular electoral ward. It would mean that a Mayor could implement change required by the electorate in Galway City.

“It would mean voters having actual powers to effect change in their own city. It would radically democratise local government in Galway and is a change I wholeheartedly support,” Deputy Naughton said.

The Taoiseach has proposed that the plebiscite for a directly elected Galway Mayor be held next year. Should it pass, the Government would then draw up legislation and if it proceeds through the Oireachtas, the first elections for Galway voters for their directly elected Mayor could be held in 2020 or 2021.

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