October 19, 2021

Waterford FG members reject Minister Phelan’s plan for directly-elected mayors

MINISTER John Paul Phelan’s plans to have directly-elected mayors in every local authority have received a setback after one of his own party colleagues called for the proposal to be “withdrawn and forgotten about”.

The Fine Gael mayor of Waterford, Declan Doocey, also said he is advising constituents to vote No in next month’s poll on directly elected mayors.

The vote on directly elected mayors will be held in Waterford, Cork and Limerick. If it is successful Minister Phelan will seek to have directly elected mayors installed in every local authority.

However, the Kilkenny TD and Minister for Local Government’s plans suffered a blow after Doocey said the proposal would cost too much and that he hopes it will be defeated on May 24.

Under the Fine Gael-led Government proposal, each directly elected mayor would be paid a salary of €129,854 and be entitled to up to €16,000 in vouched annual expenses.

“In Ukraine two weeks ago, a comedian headed the poll in the election. So you could have a sports star or an actor with no experience in politics getting elected mayor. I’ll be advising my supporters about the negative aspects of this plebiscite. I don’t see any positive aspects at all. It should be withdrawn and forgotten about,” Doocey told The Sunday Times.

Doocey was speaking after Waterford city and county councillors passed an emergency motion on Friday opposing the proposal for a directly-elected mayor.

Writing in KilkennyNow.ie earlier this year, Minister Phelan defended the proposal and said having a directly elected mayor was about addressing the “massive democratic deficit at the top of local government”.

The proposal has received a mixed response locally, with many criticising the high pay packages the new mayors would be entitled to.

Doocey said he and fellow party members in Waterford tried to persuade Minister Phelan not to procced with the plan.

“We’ve advised him we’re uneasy and dissatisfied but he’s gung-ho about it. He thinks if he brings this on he’ll be made for life, but I say if it ain’t broke, why fix it?”

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