Saša Novak Uí Chonchúir

Green Party Councillor for Limerick City North

Candidate in Local Elections on 7th June

DEM – Directly Elected Mayor for Limerick

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I call it dehm, like dam, but with an e. Some call it dee-ee-ehm. It stands for a Directly Elected Mayor, which, once legislation is passed and a person is elected, will be simply the Mayor of Limerick.

On the 24th May 2019 the people of Limerick voted to approve the proposal that will allow the people of Limerick (city and county) to directly elect a mayor with executive functions for a five-year term.

Currently the mayor in Limerick City and County is elected for a one-year term by other councillors. Under the Government’s proposal, the directly elected mayor would have more functions than a mayor currently has, including some or all of the executive functions held by the chief executive.

The Implementation Advisory Group (IAG) was launched in Limerick on 2nd December 2019. I joined the group for my first meeting on 13th March 2020. The group comprises different stakeholders, among them 5 councillors, representatives of the executive, including the Chief Executive, a representative from the PPN, Chamber of Commerce, UL Student Union, academics, and representatives from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. It is scheduled to meet every two weeks with the purpose to dissect and discuss, and ultimately to advise the Government on:

“how best to establish and shape the role of directly elected Mayor in Limerick. The Group will examine the potential of the role into the future, and also the implications for the delivery of services and resourcing for Limerick City and County Council. It will consider the governance relationships between the new Mayor, the Council and the Executive and what possible extra functions the Mayor could take on. The Group will report to the Minister on these matters by summer 2020.”

Terms of Reference, IAG website

While the chair of the Group was very active during the lockdown and was engaging with different stakeholders, the meetings of the group were suspended for about 2 months and the report is therefore going to be delayed until autumn. The pandemic has also affected and substantially changed the consultation process. The workshops, town halls and meetings that were considered before had to be scrapped and a version of those has moved online. The consultation task was undertaken by UL. 

It is important that the Limerick people have their say in the formation of the function and the roles of the directly elected mayor. This is essentially a local government reform that has the potential to bring about more local autonomy and decentralisation, and will determine the course of the development of Limerick in relation to other regional cities. In order to get an idea of what is being discussed I would urge everyone to read or scroll through the Government’s original policy proposal and then through the documents and presentations discussed by the IAG (please scroll all the way to the bottom of the page for the docs). 

Finally, take the time to make your contribution to Your Mayor – Your Voice debate or join one of the online consultations in the next couple of days.

Inputs and ideas welcome by email: sasa.novak@limerick.ie