TÁNAISTE Simon Coveney said there was a lot of ‘scaremongering’ on the topic of a directly-elected mayor and said its rejection by the Cork city electorate was a disappointment.
In a plebiscite held at the same time as the local and European elections, the people of Cork narrowly rejected proposals for a directly-elected mayor for the city, with 34,347 voting against the idea and 33,364 voting in favour.
The same question was also rejected in Waterford but the Limerick electorate voted in favour of the new role for their city.
“The first thing some people decided to focus on was the salary,” Mr Coveney said.
“There was a lot of information [on the role] available but people chose to focus on the salary and make it controversial.
“Perhaps we should have anticipated that. We wanted to be fully upfront, it was made clear that any increased cost of setting it up would be paid by national government, despite the many people covered it by saying it would impact on footpath programmes and lighting programmes.
“There was an awful lot of scaremongering on this, unfortunately.”
He also hit out at other parties for not supporting the campaign in Cork, noting that it passed in Limerick with the help of strong support from local Fianna Fáil politicians.
“I think if there had been a little more unity across political parties this would have passed comfortably in Cork too but that didn’t happen despite the fact that all political parties said they supported it, with the exception of Solidarity/People Before Profit,” he said.
“I think the Greens and Social Democrats did quite a lot but we didn’t see much activity from anyone else bar Fine Gael. But I don’t want to get bitter, this isn’t a blame game.
“There are probably some lessons to be learned, if we were to do this again we would get information out earlier and perhaps try and do it in a less party political way.”
After the vote, Fianna Fáil leader and Cork South-Central TD Micheál Martin suggested the Government botched their campaign on the issue.
“I am not going to be a party to a shambolic operation like this,” he said. “I said it to the government. They can’t expect people to be coming in behind a proposal that is poorly thought out.”