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'Shambolic': Martin hits out at government as speculation mounts over defeat of directly elected mayor plebiscite

Martin’s comments come as speculation mounts in Cork that the plebiscite looks set to be defeated.

File photo of Cork City Hall.
File photo of Cork City Hall.
Image: Shutterstock/crazy82

FIANNA FÁIL LEADER Micheál Martin has hit out at the government for the handling of the plebiscite on whether Cork city should have a directly elected mayor. 

Martin’s comments come as speculation mounts in the count centre that the plebiscite looks set to be defeated.

As well as the local and European elections, people in Cork, Waterford and Limerick were also asked yesterday to vote on whether they wanted to introduce directly elected mayors to govern their cities. 

Directly elected mayors would perform “a significant amount” of the executive functions currently carried out by local authority chief executives. They would be paid significantly more, and would – as the name suggests – be directly elected by the electorate. 

The plebiscite had the support of the government with Fine Gael’s Simon Coveney campaigning for a Yes vote in recent weeks. Fianna Fáil stayed out of any campaigning for or against the proposal. 

Speaking to EchoLive.ie and Red FM from Nemo Rangers GAA Club – where ballots are being sorted – Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said that the government’s campaign on the issue had been “shambolic”.

“I am not going to be a party to a shambolic operation like this. I said it to the government. They can’t expect people to be coming in behind a proposal that is poorly thought out,” he said. 

“Notwithstanding the cost just hold it on separate day, have a separate debate about it,” he said. 

“And that’s why I think it’s a long time since we had an Electoral Commission established to oversee the organisation of elections and referendums properly and professionally.

This was just shambolic and a mess by the government.  

While there are no proper tallies on the plebiscite, suggestions are coming from the Cork count centre that it is unlikely to pass. Similar reports are also coming from Limerick. 

Votes for the plebiscite will not be counted until Monday. 

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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