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Cabinet approves legislation to directly elect mayor of Limerick

LIMERICK: Limerick is set to become the first city in Ireland to have a directly elected mayor with executive powers. Limerick was given the opportunity after the cabinet approved legislation to directly elect the mayor of the city and county of Limerick. There will be an election later this year.

It was back in May 2019 the people of Limerick voted directly to elect a mayor. The Cabinet decision came after the release of the report of the Independent Advisory Group on the new legislation.

The new mayor will receive a salary of €130,000. The office will have five staff members, including the current rank of junior ministerial portfolio and special advisor. The mayor receives a salary equivalent to that of a minister. Four of the staff will be directly from the local authority.

The new mayor of Limerick will hold office until 2029. The mayor will have authority over housing, building, road transport, security, strategic development, and environmental services.

“The mayor will be the executive head of Limerick. They will have the power to propose an annual budget to the council,” said Minister for State for Local Government and Planning, Peter Burke. The mayor has the right to make decisions regarding Irish water, Slainte Care and about national transport plans, education and training. “That would need to be worked through with all the different departments,” Mr. Burke added.

The mayor will also oversee the annual budget of €401 million. This is the current budget of the Limerick City and the County Council.

The Chief Executive of the Council will be renamed the ‘Director General’. The financial management of the Council will be responsible for the accounting activities.

The minister said the new director general would receive €171,578 – subject to a final decision. The current CEO is paid €162,257. “The new Director General will be paid one more grade up from the current chief executive rate of salary in the local authorities’ pay scale. That reflects the additional responsibility,” said the minister. 

“It is the most significant reform of local government since the foundation of our State. It is a huge opportunity for Limerick to grasp,” Minister Peter Burke said. The minister said he expects the new mayor to take office by the end of 2021. “We are in a race against time to deliver the legislation this year and also to have an election this year,” he added.

Limerick’s current mayor Michael Collins (Fianna Fáil) and Fine Gael Councillor Daniel Butler welcomed the government’s move to legislate for direct elections. However, Fine Gael Councillor also criticised the move as costly.

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