Deputy Mattie McGrath
Independent TD Mattie McGrath has described the confirmation by the Minister of State for Local Government, John Paul Phelan, that the government will actively pursue a Directly Elected Mayor for all of County Tipperary as deeply troubling. Deputy McGrath was speaking after he questioned the Minister of State during the course of a Dáil debate on the matter:
“Minister Phelan has now made it explicitly clear that should the plebiscites on Directly Elected Mayors in Cork, Waterford and Limerick be carried on Friday, 24 May, then he will push that agenda on to every local authority in the state.
This effectively means that the people of those three local authority areas will decide for the rest of country in terms of whether or not the rest of us will face a government driven push to implement this policy in our locality.
Beyond this however there are enormous concerns around this proposal that are not being effectively addressed.
For instance, the Minister wants the executive mayor to have a similar relationship with the local authority chief executive as a Minister has with a Secretary General of a Department.
Now anyone with even a passing knowledge of the operation of government departments knows that real power remains with the Secretary General.
This would mean the eventual imposition of another layer of the dysfunctional and overly bureaucratic nature of the civil service on to local government.
There is also the matter of the costs that will be imposed and where the funding will come from.
The guidance document on Directly Elected Mayors tells us that the new elected mayors in Cork, Limerick, and Waterford be paid a salary of €130,000 per annum and that they will be able to draw down vouched allowances of €16,000.
Meanwhile, they will also be entitled to a special adviser with a salary of just under €67,000 per year, a programme officer with a salary of just under €67,000 per year and they can have a driver with a salary of €35,000 a year.
Where is this money going to come from? Will local services suffer? Does it represent value for money?
These are just some of the questions that we need to have addressed immediately,” concluded Deputy McGrath.