Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Monday 25 September 2023 Dublin: 16°C
Shutterstock/Giuseppe Vitagliano File photo of Limerick
# Proposals
Here is what a directly elected mayor will and won't be able to do
People in Cork, Limerick and Waterford will get to vote on the issue in May.

DIRECTLY ELECTED MAYORS would perform “a significant amount” of the executive functions currently carried out by local authority chief executives, new proposals have outlined. 

The government has today published policy proposals for directly elected mayors with executive functions.

In May, the people of Cork city, Limerick city and county, and Waterford city and county will have an opportunity to vote in a plebiscite on the topic.

Voting will take place on the same date as the local and European elections, 24 May.

There has recently been much debate about the potential pros and cons of such roles and the Department of Housing has now published its proposals.

A directly elected mayor with executive functions would:

  • perform a significant amount of the executive functions currently performed by local authority chief executives
  • prepare and oversee implementation of a programme of office (similar to a programme for government)
  • ensure that the chief executive performs the functions of the local authority in accordance with the mayor and elected council’s policies
  • be an ex-officio member and cathaoirleach of the elected council, contributing to the elected council’s exercise of their reserved functions
  • represent the entire local authority area at local, national and international level

The proposals set out what directly elected mayors will be able to do, including:

Represent the entire local authority area

As an officeholder elected from across the local authority area, the directly elected mayor will represent and advocate for the interests of the entire local authority area both nationally and internationally.

Bridge reserved and executive functions

Local government legislation divides local authority functions into executive and reserved functions. The directly elected mayor with executive functions would bridge the gap between the two categories of functions.

Ensure the implementation of the policy of, and decisions made by, the
elected council in relation to its reserved functions

The directly elected mayor will replace the chief executive as the person responsible for ensuring that all lawful directions of the elected council in relation to the exercise and
performance of the elected council’s reserved functions are carried into effect.

The chief executive will implement these directions of the elected council on the mayor’s behalf, under the oversight of the mayor.

Ensure that the executive functions of the local authority are performed
effectively and efficiently

As the person legally responsible for the performance of the local authority’s executive functions, the directly elected mayor will be responsible for ensuring that executive functions are performed effectively and efficiently.

The chief executive will carry out these executive functions on behalf of the mayor. The mayor will oversee the performance of the chief executive.

Policy-making and policy preparation

Where legislation requires, the directly elected mayor will be responsible for drafting and presenting policies to the elected council of the local authority, for the council’s approval.

Where existing arrangements provide that the chief executive is responsible for setting
policy for the local authority, the mayor will assume that responsibility.

Act as leader of the elected council

The directly elected mayor will, as under existing arrangements, preside over council meetings and provide leadership to the elected council.

Under the proposals, directly elected mayors will NOT have a role in:

The performance of certain executive functions currently exercised by the chief executive

Insofar as they relate to individual instances of those functions, such as allocating social housing to individuals or families, or approving individual planning applications, or granting licences or permits.

These functions will remain the legal responsibility of the chief executive, and be carried out in line with policies approved by the council.

Enforcement matters

Insofar as they relate to individual instances, such as planning enforcement.

These functions, as at present, will be carried out by the chief executive, in line with policies approved by the council.

Exercising a second or casting vote

This refers to when voting on a policy, plan, budget or other item that they have prepared and proposed to the elected council.

Broadly speaking, it would be inappropriate for the directly elected mayor to have a role in relation to individual cases, applications, enforcement matters, grant allocation and revenue-gathering activities. These functions will be performed by the chief executive on behalf of the local authority.

The proposals state that a provision to preclude the directly elected mayor from involvement in individual cases or matters could be included in legislation.

The document notes that could be similar to Section 30 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, which precludes the relevant minister from involvement in particular cases.

It adds that arrangements similar to those in the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection, where Deciding Officers are independent in their decision-making, could also be put in place. This is provided for under Part 10 of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005, as amended.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel