GREEN Party candidate Oliver Moran has compared the upcoming plebiscite to establish a directly-elected mayor in Cork to Brexit, saying that the public is being asked to vote without knowing what the outcome will be.
Mr Moran is one of the organisers of the Cork Mayor Campaign, which broadly supports the idea of a directly-elected mayor but believes that the government has not provided enough information to the public so far.
Last week, the cross-party Cork Mayor Campaign sent a report arising from a public workshop it held to the minister. The report is supportive of the proposal but outlines concerns with remaining questions such as the relationship between the proposed mayor, city officials and the elected councillors, as well as powers such as setting the city budget.
The group has called on Minister John Paul Phelan to publish draft legislation and to engage the public in information nights on the proposal as a matter of urgency. The referendum is planned for Friday, May 24.
Mr Moran, who is running Cork City North-West, urged the Minister to publish more information or the plebiscite will be lost.
"Even among people who support the change, the referendum is at the precipice of being lost because of a lack of public information. People are being asked to write a 'Brexit cheque' and rely on the promise of politician and that the civil service won't water down the proposals. That's not good enough," he said.
He used the referendum on the Eighth amendment last year as an example of how to inform voters before polling day.
"Before the Repeal referendum, a draft bill was prepared so that people knew exactly what would happen if they voted Yes or No. This is the greatest single change to local government in Cork for a hundred years since the city manager system was brought in. The least we deserve is the same level of confidence in what we are voting for," he said.
He said that the Minister had provisionally accepted an invitation to visit Cork to discuss the proposal, and urged him to do so soon.
"At Christmas time, we invited the minister to take part in a public information session in Cork. He indicated then that he would and it's an absolute imperative now that he does," he said.
Earlier this week, Minister Simon Coveney said that the Cabinet will be briefed on the plans in the next two to three weeks, and will then be able to share more information with the public.