CORK will go to the polls next May to decide whether to introduce a directly-elected Mayor in the city.
The government yesterday agreed to the holding of plebiscites on directly elected executive mayors for cities. The vote will take place on the same day as the local elections.
John Paul Phelan, Minister of State for Local Government and Electoral Reform, announced that the votes will take place in Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Galway.
The decision is on the back of a government policy document designed to strengthen local government leadership and accountability. Voters will be asked to choose between the current Lord Mayor role, a ceremonial position with a one year term, and a directly-elected Executive Mayor, whose functions would include existing Councillor and mayor functions combined with executive functions currently residing with chief executives of local authorities.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar previously said that the new position would have a five-year term and ‘real power and influence.’
The results of the plebiscite are not legally binding but it is expected that the government would honour the vote. If approved, it is understood that the first directly elected mayor would be elected in 2021.
The Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Mick Finn expressed concern about the proposals to change the nature of the position.
“I like the concept of it but it would represent a significant change in the nature of the office with obvious repercussions for our current executive and reserved functions of council, management and elected members,” he said.
“A directly elected mayor with executive functions would be a serious role. I think we would all have to see the mechanics of how it would operate before fully supporting it.”