‘Free Willie’ for Directly Elected Mayor, says Clare TD

Limerick Fianna Fáil TD Willie O'Dea

LEGISLATION for Limerick’s Directly Elected Mayor (DEM) is set to be published this month, and in the Dáil one well-known local politician’s name was already being advanced as a candidate.

Green Party TD Brian Leddin had asked Tánaiste Micheál Martin whether the Government are serious about this fundamental reform of local government.

“Yesterday was four years since the people of Limerick city and county decided they would have a Directly Elected Mayor for Limerick. Limerick was unique among the Irish cities and counties that it had this opportunity at the time. The Tánaiste’s city, Cork, declined the opportunity, as did Waterford,” Deputy Leddin said last Thursday.

“The most recent comment we have heard on the legislation that is required to call an election for a Directly Elected Mayor was that it would be introduced in April. We are moving into the month of June but have not seen the legislation.

“Numerous requests for the legislation have been made in this House and the Upper House over the past four years. We need to know whether the Government and Department are serious about this fundamental reform of local government.”

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Independent Clare TD Michael McNamara, it seemed, already had a man in mind for the top position, which comes with a salary of €130,000. The DEM will also be entitled to €16,000 in expenses as well as an advisor and a programme officer, each earning €66,741, and a personal driver earning €34,580.

“Free Willie,” Deputy McNamara cried out during the Dáil debate.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin asked if he was advancing Deputy Willie O’Dea as a candidate?

Before he could respond, An Ceann Comhairle intervened to bring  a bit of decorum back into proceedings.

“Wait now. Could we leave the fun until afterwards? Could we have the Tánaiste answering, please?” he said.

“I note the endorsement by Deputy McNamara,” the Tánaiste replied.

“The legislation will be published in June. That is a demonstration of the seriousness with which this will be taken. Obviously arrangements will have to be made for the election and so on.”

When asked for his thoughts on Deputy McNamara’s Dáil outburst, Willie O’Dea told the Limerick Post that he considered it very kind of the Clare Independent to recommend him for the prestigious role of Directly Elected Mayor of such an ancient and historic city and county.

“Shakespeare said some people ‘have greatness thrust upon them’, however, I will have to decline Michael McNamara’s suggestion, as it is not for me and I intend to continue to represent the people of Limerick in Dáil Éireann,” he added.