Mayoral vote plan blasted as scandalous treatment of the public

Mayoral vote plan blasted as scandalous treatment of the public
Fianna Fail party leader Micheál Martin TD

THE Government has come under fire for expecting people to ‘blindly vote’ on whether or not Cork City should have its first ever directly elected mayor.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has suggested the May vote should be delayed because of the absence of information on the powers of the directly elected mayor.

The Cork public will be asked to vote on whether it wants to establish the position of a €130,000-a-year directly elected mayor for the city, but there has been little information from Government on the precise nature of the role.

“I think this is a scandalous and shabby way to treat people; to expect them to vote on a plebiscite on which there has been very little debate and very little presentation from both sides,” said Mr Martin.

“I don’t think there’s been one explanatory leaflet issued by the Government explaining what the proposals are. If you were to ask people about it on Patrick St in the morning, I’d be interested to see the responses you’d get.”

Mr Martin, who is broadly in favour of introducing the position of a directly elected mayor, has questioned if the planned vote on the issue should go ahead.

“It seems within the Government that there is confusion as to the respective roles of the mayor and chief executive officer,” he said.

“There’s a lot of confusion, there’s no clear information.

“The Taoiseach more or less acknowledged that in the exchange I had with him.

“The first Cabinet meeting to discuss this was only decided on last week.

“I’d say the level of public awareness is very, very low and if it is, why proceed with it?

“It’s not doing justice to the seriousness of the proposal.”

Mr Martin said he believes the plebiscite does not have to be run in tandem with the local elections. “There’s an argument for these plebiscites to be held outside the local electorate activity because everybody will be focused on the local and European elections, and there will be very little time left to debate what are important issues.

“You could hold the plebiscite next year or another time which could then come into effect for 2024.”

Mr Martin said the plebiscite should be run like a referendum with objective information campaigns on what the role of a directly elected mayor would entail.

Limerick and Waterford will also hold plebiscites on directly elected mayors who will potentially earn €130,000 a year if voted for by the public.

Mr Martin’s comments follow Lord Mayor Mick Finn (Ind) in stating that Cork City Council has received “zero correspondence” from Minister of State for Local Government John Paul Phelan on details around what the position of a directly elected mayor entails.

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