Transformative Directly Elected Mayor legislation within reach

Senator Maria Byrne

THERE are exciting times ahead for Limerick as it moves closer to becoming the first county in the country to have a directly elected mayor.

So said Fine Gael Senator Maria Byrne as the final stages of the Local Government (Mayor of Limerick) and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill 2023 passed through the Seanad.

All eyes in other counties, Senator Byrne predicted, will be looking at what happens and how the position evolves in Limerick.

“It is very appropriate that people there will go the polls on the same day as the local elections. Local government is alive and well in Limerick,” Senator Byrne, a former Limerick mayor herself, said.

“I wish all success to the Bill. It will put Limerick on a pedestal in that the new office will not only be the driver of Limerick city and county but also the driver of the Mid West. We need a strong city in terms of driving economic development, education, and so on.”

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

Limerick TD and Minister of State at the Department of Local Government, Kieran O’Donnell, acknowledged the phenomenal work of the officials on the Bill, deeming it a ground-breaking, historic, and a new dawn for Limerick in terms of local politics.

”I acknowledge the major positive contribution from the elected members and the executive of Limerick City and County Council. Change is never easy. I refer to the business community and the wider community in Limerick, the people in Limerick voted for by plebiscite.”

The legislation will go to the Dáil this week to be passed, based on the amendments tabled in the Seanad, after which it will go to President Michael D Higgins to be signed.

Only a small number of names have so far been linked to a run for the historic new role. Green Party TD Brian Leddin declared his candidacy before Christmas, followed by People Before Profit’s Ruairí Fahy earlier in February.

Limerick businesswoman Helen O’Donnell and former Department of Finance general secretary John Moran have also heavily implied a mayoral bid.

Further candidacy declarations are expected once the bill is signed, with both Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats having previously indicated that they will stand a candidate.

No candidate has yet been put forward officially by Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael.