Limerick Sinn Féin TD, Maurice Quinlivan, insists the legislation for a democratically elected mayor of Limerick falls short of what was needed.
Deputy Quinlivan made the comments at Leinster House during the final stage debate on amendments to the bill. The bill will now progress to the Seanad for further debate.
He also criticised the length of time it has taken to publish the legislation, noting that the Limerick plebiscite was held over four years ago.
Teachta Quinlivan said:
“The Bill as it stands falls short of a meaningful change in local government and offers us an elected Mayoral role with limited functions. It certainly isn’t a beacon of progress that other local authorities would wish to aspire to.
“The continuous delays in bringing forward the legislation, coupled with the lack of real powers for the to be elected Mayor, will only serve to dampen support for the role. The plebiscite in 2019 was only narrowly carried, and there is nothing contained in this legislation that will persuade those who were sceptical then to support the position now.
“Before the first Mayor of this new office has been elected, we face a challenge in ensuring a level of public interest in the establishment of the office and the election of someone to this office.
“While I welcome that there is finally some progress on the bill, four and half years after it was voted on, there are crucial functions that were not included or were fudged to such a degree that the role is not reflective of what was promised before the plebiscite.
“Sinn Féin proposed 11 amendments that, if adopted, would have given the Mayoral role some real power with a number of additional functions devolved from central government.
“Unfortunately, these were rejected, and we must now accept this watered-down version of what should have been the most fundamental change to local government in decades.
“Proposals such as the mayor having the authority to select his or her own staff from existing Council staff, the adaptation of additional functions that included a crucial oversight role on the Regeneration programme and the opportunity for local Councillors to propose amendments to the Mayoral programme were all rejected by the government.
“The bill we are left with is a victory for the County and City Management Association (CCMA), with the most important powers and functions remaining under the authority of the newly created Director General position that is simply a new title for the Chief Executive role.
“The Implementation Advisory Group made several suggestions around devolved functions from central government; very few, if any, are contained in the bill in its current form.
“This is a missed opportunity to enhance local democracy and for Limerick to act as an example to be followed by other local authorities. This legislation does not offer the opportunity for those ambitions to be met.”