AN Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will lead canvasses and townhall events across three cities this week as part of Fine Gael’s campaign for a Yes vote in Directly Elected Mayor plebiscites next month.
The people of Waterford (Tuesday), Cork (Wednesday) and Limerick (Thursday) will have the opportunity this week to hear why a directly elected first citizen would be of immense benefit to their cities and surrounding regions.
Ahead of this week’s intensive tour of the Munster regions, the Taoiseach said it is time for power to be transferred from unelected officials to elected mayors answerable to their citizens.
“On the 24th of May, the people of Cork City, Waterford and Limerick will be given the opportunity to have their say on whether they want to able to democratically elect their own Mayor. It’s the biggest reform of local government in a long time.
“The Government wants these city regions to grow by 50% between now and 2040, at twice the rate of Dublin bringing about genuine balanced regional development. The elected Mayor – Lord Mayor in Cork – will drive this ambition forward and will have real clout when engaging with ministers and central government because of their mandate from the people. They will represent their city or county nationally and internationally, chair council meetings, propose the budget and development plan.
“It’s a big change. Power transferred from unelected officials to an elected mayor truly accountable to the people, someone you know, someone you can re-elect if they do a good job and replace if they do not. Decisions made in Cork, Waterford and Limerick for Cork, Waterford and Limerick rather than in government departments in Dublin,” Mr Varadkar said.
The plebiscites take place in Waterford and Limerick city and county electoral areas and the Cork City Council area on May 24 – the same day as the European and local elections.
Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government with special responsibility for Local Government and Electoral Reform, John Paul Phelan said Limerick, Waterford and Cork could quickly become the standard bearers and example for the rest of the country with their own ‘People’s Mayor’.
“Local government is extremely important but so is reform and it is time we changed these roles. The office of Lord Mayor or Mayor is one that should signify real power to positively influence and shape a city, county and surrounding region.
“Under the Government’s proposals, a directly elected mayor with executive functions would perform a significant amount of work currently performed by local authority chief executives, giving the mayoral role real teeth. The term will eventually be for five years and the public could make up their mind then on the verdict of the mayor’s term should he/she decide to run again,” Minister Phelan said.
On Tuesday afternoon, accompanied by local representatives and European election candidates, the Taoiseach will launch the three-day canvass in Waterford city.
Wednesday is onto Cork city with another canvass followed by an 8pm townhall meeting in the Clayton Hotel, Lapp’s Quay. Dr Aodh Quinlivan, the director of the Centre for Local and Regional Governance at University College Cork, and Tánaiste Simon Coveney will also address the meeting.
On Thursday after meeting Limerick locals, Mr Varadkar will be at Thomond Park stadium in Limerick for another Fine Gael organised townhall (8pm) with Chair of the Shannon Group Board, Rose Hynes and Chair of LiveAble Limerick, John Moran.
Those wishing to attend the Fine Gael townhall meetings must pre-register at the following link: http://www.fgmatters.com