Council Affairs: The race for mayor is on, apparently

Limerick County Council Offices in Dooradoyle.

SO, it’s official, Limerick’s Directly Elected Mayor is a go! Back in 2019, the good people of Limerick, well, just over 50 per cent of them anyway, voted for a DEM with executive functions for Limerick City and County.

Now, finally, the wait is over, and the election for this new and improved position of power will take place on the same date as the Local and European Elections in 2024 — sometime between June 6 and 9, if the pitch is playable.

Our next exalted first citizen’s salary is set to increase from around €45,000 to a staggering €130,000, which is similar to a junior minister’s salary. Nice work if you can get it -especially if the DEM’s main role is purely to welcome the Limerick hurlers home year in year out after they continue to win All-Ireland finals as if there were no cows to be milked at all.

Ah now, I’m being unfair. Those children’s playgrounds and community centres won’t open themselves either.

The DEM will also be entitled to €16,000 in expenses as well as an advisor and a programme officer, each earning €66,741.

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Not to mention — Vroom Vroom! – a personal driver earning €34,580.

The total cost of the mayor’s office and salaries for running Pigtown will be in excess of €314,000.

There will be some cráic had with that! I mean, whose round is it anyway?

Of course, one question that must be asked, is whether there is still the same appetite for destruction there was back in 2019?

For one thing, there’s more headbangers and varmints out there than ever before. If we didn’t know that before Covid and Russia’s war on Ukraine, we certainly know it now.

While the Government’s latest and utterly tantalising press statement on Limerick’s DEM might fool those still keeping the recovery going, the rest of us living back in the real world don’t have the price of a pint and a bag of chips.

So, next year, in the Year of our Lord 2024, do we really want a directly elected mayor? Can we really afford it? Will they finally get O’Connell Street finished? There’s so many questions!

Is a Directly Elected Mayor really the answer to our woes? Is it so broke it needs fixing or are we just opening the doors to the madhouse to keep things interesting?

We all know they are a great bunch of lads down in City Hall, but I wouldn’t let them organise a bouncy castle for a children’s birthday party if recent state of play is anything to go by.

So who is Limerick’s Big Kahuna going to be answerable too? Leo? Micheál? John Kiely?

And what crackpot notions will our new mayor have? My head is just fit to burst with all the questions.

Limerick Fine Gael man Kieran O’Donnell is well taken with the whole notion of a super mayor anyway.

“Having a Directly Elected Mayor will enable the people of Limerick to have a greater say over how services and infrastructure are delivered and how Limerick develops, as they voted for by plebiscite,” our Minister of State for Local Government, Planning, and Waffle suggests.

Has this lad been into the city centre any time recently?

It’s like something from after the Gold Rush. The saloons and snake oil stores are gone the same way as McDonald’s, all getting out of dodge before it’s too late and leaving us in the bone orchard with our best bib and tucker.

“This is a key milestone on the way to having the first Directly Elected Mayor in Ireland and is one of the most significant reforms of local government since the foundation of our state, with Limerick leading the way,” O’Donnell enthused.

I will have whatever he is having! Though I guess it won’t be a Big Mac.

I am going to pull in these horns, but tune in next week for more on our Directly Elected Mayor. And remember, vote early, vote often, vote Mellor.