Limerick has had a mayor in some form or another since 1195.
A history that stretches back 824 years to the first provost – a title which later became mayor – of the city is one all should be proud of.
I am a proud Limerick woman and want what is best for my city, county and the Mid-West region.
Local governance is extremely important to all who live here but like every other aspect of life, it has to change and evolve. We are being offered that unique opportunity with the plebiscite on the proposal to have a directly elected mayor.
On Friday week, May 24, all eligible to vote in Limerick city and county are being asked would they in future like to choose the Mayor of Limerick directly elected by them.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and should not be scoffed at. Cork and Waterford are being offered the same proposal and we cannot afford to fall behind the two other Munster regions when the vote is put to us. If we reject the proposal and Cork passes it, it will be an opportunity lost to our neighbouring city who will be strongly positioned to become more powerful and leave Limerick in the slow lane.
I was proud to serve as a councillor here and subsequently became Mayor through our current loca government system. However, a directly elected mayor by you, the people, would be essential for driving development in the region. Currently, the mayor has a year to influence and affect change. Under the new proposal, the Mayor of Limerick elected by the people would have five years in office to have a real input. It would be a major shift – power transferred from unelected officials to an elected mayor who is truly accountable to the people.
With Limerick projected to grow by 50% between now and 2040 and at twice the rate of Dublin, this person will drive our ambition forward and will have real clout when engaging with Ministers and central government because of their mandate from Limerick voters.
Under the proposals, a directly elected mayor with executive functions would perform a significant amount of the executive functions currently performed by local authority chief executives, giving the mayoral role real teeth. The Mayor would prepare and oversee implementation of a programme of office, similar to a programme for government and would represent the entire local authority area at local, national and international level.
Whereas just a few years ago, parts of the greater Limerick urban area were governed by three local authorities – Limerick and Clare County Council and Limerick City Council – a directly elected mayor for a single authority would be a driving force for the entire Mid-West region.
Rose Hynes, Chair of the Shannon Group and John Moran, Chairman of Liveable Limerick and formerly of the Finance Department have both come in favour of a directly elected mayor.
Fine Gael have mounted a campaign to have this office become a reality which will benefit all from Ballylanders to Ballinacurra and Castletroy to Abbeyfeale.
It is disheartening to see so many politicians in Limerick stay silent on this plebiscite and I am calling on all Limerick TDs, senators and councillors to put on their Limerick jersey and get out and support the campaign for a directly elected Mayor for Limerick.
Vote Yes for a Directly Elected Mayor for Limerick on May 24th.