Local TD says Mayor of Limerick Bill ‘falls short of ambition’

Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan

LIMERICK Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan believes that the Mayor of Limerick Bill falls far short of its original ambitions.

The Limerick Deputy made the comments following the conclusion of Housing and Local Government Committee meetings on amendments to the bill in the Dáil last week.

Speaking on the matter, the local Sinn Féin politician commented: “The Limerick Mayor of Limerick Bill is a flawed piece of legislation. The bill, as it stands, has a limited level of powers for the new elected Mayor position. We have submitted numerous amendments on the bill and they were debated over the last two days of Committee meetings.

“Unfortunately, many of these amendments I submitted were defeated but we will be raising them again at the next stage of the Bill process. The people of Limerick voted in 2019 for a democratically elected mayor with real executive powers. This is what they were promised, however the bill, as it stands, falls far short of this ambition.”

Quinlivan went on to say that two of the amendments that he submitted were of extreme importance, namely the insertion of additional functions to the role of the mayor and the power of the mayor to select their own staff from within the Limerick City and County Council existing staff pool.

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Green Party TD Brian Leddin also submitted a number of amendments to Limerick’s Minister of State for Local Government Kieran O’Donnell seeking to increase the powers that a mayor, who will be directly elected by the people of Limerick, will have.

“It is essential that the office has real powers and access to funds that will have the potential to make a difference. I entered politics to serve Limerick and to work towards improving our city and county. I am certain that all future mayoral candidates will share the same desire to deliver their unique vision of a vibrant and prosperous Limerick,” Deputy Leddin told the Dail.

“This is the most significant reform of local government in Ireland in a century and it has the potential to radically reshape how local government operates. Limerick is the first in the country to get a mayor who is directly elected by and accountable to people, and what happens in Limerick will pave the way for other cities, including Dublin next year.”

Minister of State Kieran O’Donnell explained that once the office of mayor is established and the elected candidate is in situ for an appropriate period of time, there will be a need to review the operation and effectiveness of this novel and historic legislation.

“It comes down to the question of what is the appropriate time to hold the review and a number of factors need to be considered,” he said.

“The independent advisory group report recommended the review should take place at the end of the third year of the mayoral term to enable the enactment of any legislative changes required and reflect the assignment of any new functions in advance of the next mayoral election. The Bill is consistent with that approach. The pre-legislative scrutiny report suggested a review after a period of one year, which is a short time. The proposal in the amendment for a review after two years is still relatively short.”

Minister O’Donnell also stressed the importance of adequate time being provided to allow for the embedding and integration of the new structures for Limerick City and County Council provided for in the Bill.

“This would include, for example, the office of mayor itself, the progression of the mayoral programme, and the operation of the Limerick mayoral advisory and implementation committee and so on,” he concluded.