PLANS to ask Cork citizens if they want a directly-elected Lord Mayor will be discussed at the cabinet next week.
It is expected that a plebiscite of voters in the newly-expanded Cork city will take place next year and, if the vote is approved, an election of the Lord Mayor of Cork for a five-year term would be held in five years’ time.
Currently, the position is rotated each year, with elected councillors in City Hall choosing the person to wear the chain of office. The Lord Mayor acts as chair of the City Council but the role of First Citizen is largely ceremonial.
Under new proposals, the position would be expanded to a five-year term with greater powers likely to be granted in areas of spending, transportation, housing, and economic development.
It has been reported that Cork could be the first city with a directly-elected mayor and act as a pilot project to ascertain its success given the complexity of Dublin which is made up of four separate councils.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney said: “For many years I have had a strong view that in our cities we should have mayors that are directly elected. I think you are likely to see a plebiscite in a number of cities next year but that is a decision we have to finalise in Cabinet.
“For lots of reasons, a directly elected mayor, with real powers, for Cork city makes sense.”
“The relationship between the Lord Mayor and the people in Cork city is a very strong one and there is a lot of respect there. I believe the people of Cork would like to directly elect their Lord Mayor, and I think that would enhance and empower the office. It would also give more time for a Lord Mayor to have an impact. There is huge pressure to have an impact over 12 months,” the Tánaiste said.
“I will be advocating for a directly-elected mayor for Cork city and making the same case for other cities but we will ask the people to decide.
"We will have a conversation on this in cabinet this week or next week and will announce a decision after that,” he added.