The Mayor of the Limerick City and County, Cllr Michael Collins, has welcomed the approval by Government for the drafting of legislation for the new role of Ireland’s first directly elected mayor with executive powers. The election for the post of Directly Elected Mayor is expected to take place before the end of 2021, with the first term running until the local elections of 2029.
The first Directly Elected Mayor will have many of the functions of the existing Chief Executive such as housing and building, road transport and safety, strategic development and environmental services. The Government is also to explore the potential transfer of additional functions to the role.
Welcoming the move to draft legislation, Mayor Michael Collins said that it will lead to a historic moment later this year when Limerick again gives a national lead.
“Limerick is an ambitious place; we’re constantly looking to innovate and this will be another big moment for us in that regard as we become the first local authority in Ireland to have a directly elected mayor. This is not the first time we’ve been forging new frontiers in local government as in 2014 we became the first city and county local authorities to amalgamate.
“In 2019, the people of Limerick voted in favour of a directly elected Mayor. The acceptance by Government of the Report of the IAG and approving the drafting of legislation means that today we are another step closer to achieving that goal. Together with the amalgamation of our local authorities, Limerick has demonstrated its willingness to be a national leader when it comes to local government reform.”
Also welcoming the move, Chief Executive of Limerick City and County Council Dr Pat Daly said: “This is another moment when Limerick will break new ground. We look forward to working with the Department to finalise the necessary legislative requirements to ensure the introduction of the Directly Elected Mayor. We also look forward to details around additional functions for the role and making the absolute best of this departure.”
The proposed legislation will provide for:
- The directly elected mayor being empowered to develop a ‘Programme for Local Government in Limerick’, a programme setting out the mayor’s vision and ambitions for Limerick, for approval by the elected council
- The mayor being responsible for drafting the local authority’s annual budget, for approval by the elected council
- The Chief Executive (to be re-named a ‘Director General’) retaining responsibility for functions such as managing and accounting for the council’s finances
- The elected council retaining its reserved functions
- Report of the Implementation Advisory Group
- Members of the Implementation Advisory Group
- Terms of Reference for the IAG
- Rules of Business for the meetings of the IAG
- Draft Work Plan for the IAG
- Scheduled Meetings
The Report of the IAG is the outcome of the deliberations of the Implementation Advisory Group established in December 2019, to advise the Minister on how best to establish and shape the role of the directly elected mayor with executive functions (DEM) in Limerick City and County Council, in accordance with the outcome of the plebiscite of 24 May 2019 and the Government’s detailed policy proposals document.
Members of the Implementation Advisory Group on the establishment of a Directly Elected Mayor with Executive Functions for Limerick
- Mr Tim O’Connor, Chairman
- Mayor of Limerick City and County, Councillor Michael Collins
- Councillor John Sheahan, Limerick City and County Council
- Councillor Elena Secas, Limerick City and County Council
- Councillor Novak Uí Chonchúir, Limerick City and County Council
- Councillor Kieran O’Hanlon, Limerick City and County Council
- Dr Pat Daly, Chief Executive, Limerick City and County Council
- Ms Caroline Curley, Director of Services, Limerick City and County Council
- Ms Dee Ryan, Chief Executive, Limerick Chamber
- Dr Diarmuid Scully, Centre for European Studies, University of Limerick
- Mr Jack Scanlan, Student President, University of Limerick
- Mr Cillian Flynn, Limerick Public Participation Network
- Ms Mary Hurley , Assistant Secretary, Local Government Division, Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government
- Mr Diarmuid O’Leary, Local Government Division, Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government
Terms of Reference for Implementation Advisory Group on Directly Elected Mayor with Executive Functions
The Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government hereby establishes an Implementation Advisory Group (the Group) to advise the Minister about putting in place a Directly Elected Mayor with Executive Functions, in accordance with the outcome of the recent plebiscite on Directly Elected Mayors in Limerick City and County and the Government report Directly Elected Mayors with Executive Functions: Detailed Policy Proposals.
1. The main functions of the Group are to:
- Provide advice to the Minister as to how best to establish and shape the role of Directly Elected Mayor in accordance with the outcome of the plebiscite in Limerick City and County and section 44 of the Local Government Act 2019, which provides that the Minister must, within 2 years from the date of the plebiscite, prepare and submit to each House of the Oireachtas a report “specifying proposals for the enactment of a law providing for a directly elected mayor of the administrative area in respect of which the plebiscite was held”
- Build upon the Government’s policy proposals as outlined in the Government report Directly Elected Mayors with Executive Functions: Detailed Policy Proposals, and undertake a comprehensive examination and analysis of the key areas identified therein;
- Provide to the Minister relevant views, assessments and advice arising from the matters at (b) above, including an assessment of the implications of implementing a Directly Elected Mayor as outlined in the Government report;
- Report to the Minister in relation to the foregoing matters as required by the Minister, or as the Group considers appropriate, by the end of June 2020
2. Without restricting the scope or flexibility available to the Group pursuant to paragraph 1, and subject to any additional matters that the Minister may require, the Group shall, in particular, examine in detail the following matters through a series of expert sub-Groups;
Scope and Future Proofing:
- Determine the scope and range of the office of Directly Elected Mayor in the context of the economic, social and cultural development of Limerick City & County;
- Consider the role a Directly Elected Mayor could play at a strategic level in expanding government policies and developing initiatives at a local level that best works for Limerick City & County;
- Consider additional or new mayoral powers and functions, including potential for the devolution of functions to local authorities from central government departments or agencies.
Having regard to the existing legislative framework, outline the most effective governance structures, in particular
- The role and powers/functions of an Executive Mayor including the allocation of powers and functions between the Directly Elected Mayor, the Chief Executive and the plenary Council;
- The format the governance framework will assume, including the Mayor’s relationship to the elected Council and the Chief Executive;
- General oversight of the Mayor, including ethical requirements;
- Opportunities and challenges
- Identify of current executive functions to be carried out by a Directly Elected Mayor;
- Having regard to the NPF and other national development policies, examine the potential of a Directly Elected Mayor in furthering the economic and social well-being and sustainable development of Limerick City and County, including the strategic role and impact of the City as a regional and national growth centre, and the respective characteristics and needs of the County’s rural areas; Central to that role will be working closely with key local stakeholders, including in Education, Business, Tourism, Healthcare, Sport, An Garda Síochana, Culture, other public bodies in the region, and the community and voluntary sector;
- Ensure cohesiveness, co-ordination, co-operation and collaboration in relation to customer services and delivery of services, and flexibility to adapt swiftly to strategic policy initiatives in areas such as housing, spatial planning, economic development, infrastructure, transport, and environment, culture and diaspora;
- Analyse the impact of this change in governance structures on the income, expenditure, assets, liabilities, functions and services of the local authority, to anticipated future trends and requirements in this regard, and to the requirements of addressing such implications;
- Articulate the resource implications of the Group’s recommendations, including anticipated costs and benefits (including potential savings and efficiency improvements).
3. To facilitate the effective performance of the functions of the Group:
The Group shall have regard to:
- Government report Directly Elected Mayors with Executive Functions: Detailed Policy Proposals
- Key Government policies i.e. the National Planning Framework, Ireland 2040, Rebuilding Ireland, The Action Plan for Rural Development, Global Ireland 2025 etc.
- Ongoing local policies e.g. Limerick 2030, the Limerick Regeneration Framework Implementation Plan, Internationalisation
- Public consultation and outreach as considered appropriate
The Group shall engage with other bodies, as necessary, and where the Group considers that it is necessary for the purpose of particular research, examination or analysis, the Minister may arrange for the provision of expert advice or services to the Group for that purpose.
4. The membership of the Group will include:
- The current Mayor of Limerick City and County
- Four other Elected Members, appointed by Limerick City & County as appropriate
- Two officials from Limerick City and County to be nominated by the Chief Executive
- A representative of Limerick Chamber of Commerce
- A representative of the community and voluntary sector, nominated by the Limerick Public Participation Network
- An academic from Limerick
- A representative of the third level students in Limerick
- Two officials from the Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government
The Group will determine the membership of each sub-Group in consultation with the Minister, and a member of the Group will chair each of the sub-groups as appropriate.
The Chief Executive and staff of Limerick City and County will have a key role within the process and will liaise with the Group, including through the provision of any available information, attendance at meetings etc, as required by the Group or any of its subgroups.
Support functions will be provided to the Group and the subgroups by officials from the Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government and from Limerick City and County as required.
Rules of Business for the meetings of the Implementation Advisory Group for the Directly Elected Mayor with Executive Functions
This document provides guidance for the meetings and proceedings of the Implementation Advisory Group (referred to hereafter as ‘the IAG’ or ‘the Group’).
Notice of meetings and circulation of documents in advance of meetings
- Meetings should be held at times and on dates which accommodate the members of the IAG as far as possible, having regard to the work programme of the Group. To facilitate diary planning in that regard, a draft schedule will be proposed at an early date by the Chair as an indicative guide to the timetable of the Group’s work. At the end of each meeting, the date and location of the next meeting will be agreed and finalised; this will be based on that schedule, but be capable of being adjusted to take account of the Work Programme as it evolves. Reminders of each meeting will be circulated to members one week in advance of the meeting, with a final reminder the day before the meeting.
- The first two meetings are scheduled to take place on 2 December and 19 December in Limerick City and County Municipal Buildings, Merchants Quay. The Group may consider it appropriate to hold subsequent meetings in venues outside of the city, for example, in Municipal District offices.
- Agendas, minutes of previous meetings, and any other documents deemed relevant will be circulated no later than one week in advance of each meeting. Members may request that the Chair, at his discretion, put an item on the agenda for the next meeting. Such requests should be relayed to the Chair in writing (email firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than two weeks in advance of the meeting, although later requests may be accommodated if the Chair wishes. The Chair may, at his own discretion, add matters arising to the agenda although this should not normally happen later than one week in advance of the meeting.
- Notifications to members will be via an email address that each member will supply to the Chair.
The Conduct of Meetings
- The agenda of each meeting will be determined by the Chair in accordance with the work programme
- Matters at the meeting should generally be decided by consensus. Where consensus cannot be reached, the Chair may make a final decision on the matter
- The Chair takes precedence at meetings; all decisions of the Chair in relation to the running of the meeting and points of order are final
- Where there is uncertainty about a matter relating to the holding or running of the meetings of the IAG, the Chair’s decision is final. Such decisions may be made with reference to the standing orders of Limerick City and County Council as far as practicable
- As far as is practical, the views of all members will be heard. All points made, questions asked etc. must go through the Chair
- The quorum for a meeting of the IAG is 5 members. This is arrived at by calculating one-fourth of the total number of members of the Group plus one; as one-fourth of the number of members of the Group is not a whole number, the quorum is the next highest whole number plus one.
- Meetings shall be conducted with regard for efficiency, effective decision-making, and timeliness
- The Department shall provide the Secretariat to the Group and shall be responsible for drafting minutes and publishing documents and any associated or incidental matters
- Sub-groups of the IAG will work on specific themes and provide reports to the Group, in accordance with the Group’s work programme.
- Absent members may not nominate a stand-in. If they cannot attend a meeting, they may communicate any views or points they wish to make in advance of the meeting to the Chair, who will relay them to the meeting of the IAG
- It is important that all members of the IAG behave with respect and express their views in an appropriate and professional manner
- Minutes of all meetings will be kept, mainly focusing on decisions made, and agreed between all members of the IAG present at the meeting
- The minutes of a meeting will be agreed at the following meeting of the Group, and this will be first on the agenda of the meeting. Once agreed, the minutes will be published on the website www.mayors.gov.ie.
Transparency and Proceedings of the IAG
- The meetings and proceedings of the IAG will be subject to the legislative provisions applying to State proceedings, including Freedom of Information and Data Protection
- The Department intends that the process of establishing the Directly Elected Mayor should be as transparent as possible. To that end, agreed documents associated with the work of the IAG should be published on the www.mayors.gov.ie website, including agendas of meetings, agreed minutes of meetings, documents supplied to the IAG to support its deliberations (where not already published), agreed reports and papers produced by the Group in the course of its deliberations
- Members should not supply draft or agreed papers, minutes, communications or other records to anyone outside the Group unless it is explicitly agreed that they may do so. If members wish to publish material they should request formal permission at a meeting of the Group, or in writing from the Chair
- Queries from media correspondents should, as far as possible, be directed through the Chair
Freedom of Information (FOI)
- As a general rule, the Department of Housing, Planning & Local Government will publish approved documents on the website as a matter of routine. This will include today’s press release, the terms of reference and a list of members appointed to the Implementation Advisory Group. All relevant material will be published on the website www.mayors.gov.ie.
General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)
- As part of the working method of the Group, material will be circulated in advance to members by email. Details of members’ emails and mobile numbers will not be published on any departmental website, and will be used by the chair and the secretariat for the purposes of facilitating meetings, distributing material etc. only
Draft Work Plan for the Implementation Advisory Group for the Directly Elected Mayor with Executive Functions
- To advise the Minister on the implementation of the mandate given by the people of Limerick City and County for the establishment of an office of directly elected Mayor with executive functions for the Council, ensuring that the requirements of the Local Government Act 2019 are met in a way that is;
a. Based on the Government’s policy document, Directly Elected Mayors with Executive Functions: Detailed Policy Proposals
b. Effective, efficient and adds value for stakeholders including citizens, elected members, the executive, rate payers and constituents of Limerick City and County Council administrative area
- Building on Aim 1 above, to advise the Minister and Government on the scope of the role of Directly Elected Mayor and, in that context, on what further functions that could be assigned to local authorities
- To ensure the ongoing engagement with all of the main stakeholders in Limerick City and County, and to maintain their support and buy-in for this significant reform process
Drawing from Government’s policy document, the Implementation Advisory Group will:
- Advise the Minister on the implementation of the Government’s policy proposal document, Directly Elected Mayors with Executive Functions: Detailed Policy Proposals, which was accepted by the people of Limerick City and County in a plebiscite held on 24 May 2019
- Advise on the detailed executive functions and operations to be assigned to the Directly Elected Mayor
- Advise on the executive functions and operations that would remain with the Chief Executive
- Consider its analysis of the division of responsibility, functions and relationship between Mayor, Chief Executive and Elected Council under four main headings:
- Scope, future proofing/devolution/new functions for Limerick
- Strategic oversight/Governance/Decision making
- Operational control/Service delivery
- Resource allocation/Financial control/Accountability
Means of Working:
It is proposed that the work of the Group be divided into four main areas of work, as follows:
- Scope of role and additional functions
- Governance/strategic oversight/decision making
- Service delivery/operation
This approach would allow for focused examination of the different strands of the work programme.
Scope, Additional Functions/Future Proofing
As it is important to be ambitious for the role of Directly Elected Mayor, and as this is recognised by stakeholders in Limerick, the Group will be required to identify a new scope, including executive functions, for the office of Mayor. This will require engagement with other State Bodies and other stakeholders in Limerick City and County. This level of ambition should be broad and should encompass the next phase of the development of Limerick City and County (i.e. the Next Limerick), economically, socially and culturally, on a basis that is sustainable and that builds on the progress of recent years under the Limerick 2030 Plan. To be realised, this will involve buy-in at all levels including central Government as a whole. A key point here is that this is a national project, not just a local project restricted to Limerick. It is recognised, therefore, that any such discussions/outputs should be of benefit, not just to the directly elected mayor programme, but also to work being undertaken elsewhere in the Department to strengthen municipal districts and devolution of functions to local authorities generally. The Directly Elected Mayor of Limerick project could strengthen local government reform generally and be an exemplar for local government reform across all 31 local authorities. At the same time, it will be important that the goals set for the Office of Directly Elected Mayor are deliverable and a key task of the Group will be on advising on how best to achieve that balance between ambition and realism.
Under this heading the Group would examine how a reformed local authority structure incorporating the Directly Elected Mayor might be created and governed. Particular focus will be on the relationships between the Mayor, Chief Executive and Elected Council. The Group will also examine the role of the Mayor, both the internal role of the office of Directly Elected Mayor and the outward facing role of the Mayor, and its impact on the role of the elected council.
Service Delivery/Operational Control
The Group will examine current executive functions to determine how they might transfer to a Directly Elected Mayor. Consideration will need to be given to potential impacts on current reserved functions. For example, this might be an opportunity to establish inter alia if there is room for improvement in some areas, or if some functions should move to metropolitan/municipal district level. Key performance indicators which are meaningful and measurable will also need to be defined. This task will require extensive consideration of the full range of primary legislation governing the functions of local authorities, across the full range of Government Departments. Input from and engagement with other Government Departments will also be necessary.
Finance and staff resources, and the control over those matters, are always central to discussions so the Group will be required to consider the implications of the new structures on these matters. For example, consideration should be given to:
- The role of the Directly Elected Mayor in the budgetary process and the impacts this may have on governance and decision making functions of the elected members
- The role of the Chief Executive as the accounting officer on a day to day basis
- A potential discretionary fund for the Directly Elected Mayor
Method of Working
The broad range of interests and expertise proposed for the membership of the advisory group brings specific strengths/focus in particular areas. This will allow the Chair, where required, to appoint smaller subgroups to focus on a specific area or topic, and report back to the larger group.
Dividing the work in this way could allow for different strands of work to be undertaken concurrently, which is likely to be necessary if the ambitious timescale is to be met. The IAG may also decide to invite external stakeholders with specific expertise to contribute to specific work areas, thus broadening the expertise available.
The principal output will be a report for the Minister, specifying proposals for the enactment of a law providing for a Directly Elected Mayor, which will be submitted to Government and to the Oireachtas in accordance with section 44 of the Local Government Act 2019. This report will reflect the work done by the group in each of the areas outlined above and may be informed by inter alia progress reports, case studies and the proceedings of a major public event.
A mechanism to ensure that wider stakeholders - the elected Council, business, community or civil society groups - are briefed on progress is vital. It is intended that all agreed discussion papers and minutes of meetings will be available online. Progress reports at key intervals will be prepared and circulated to the wider plenary Council and the Minister.
As part of the consideration of the potential scope of the role of Directly Elected Mayor, some case studies may be commissioned in towns and cities with a mayoral system that appropriately matches some of the key policy proposals outlined in the Government policy document. This will allow the group to look at examples of best practice from several sources and tailor them accordingly.
It is intended to organise a major public event in the spring, bring together all relevant stakeholders and interested parties. Keynote speakers with academic, administrative and/or practical expertise relating to directly elected Mayors will be invited to present on their experiences in the role of Directly Elected Mayor. Other public information events may also be considered.
The IAG will be formally launched by Minister of State for Local Government and Electoral Reform John Paul Phelan TD on Monday 2 December 2019, and the first meeting of the group will take place immediately afterwards. This meeting will focus on the initial setup of the Group, including the adoption of the Terms of Reference, the Work Plan, the establishment of sub groups as appropriate and any other matters as appropriate. Given the complexity of the programme and the ambitious timetable, it is proposed to hold a second meeting before Christmas, and then to schedule meetings on a fortnightly basis from January to June. A draft timetable is set out below. This is for the purpose of illustration, and will be subject to amendment as the IAG sees fit.
Schedule of Meetings
A draft schedule of meetings is outlined below. The initial launch and first meetings will be held in Limerick City and County Council offices in Merchants Quay, Limerick. Subsequent meeting times and venues will be confirmed in advance of each meeting. It is possible that meetings may take place outside of the city, for example in municipal district offices.
|Mon 02 Dec 2019||11am||Limerick City and County Council Headquarters, Merchant's Quay, Limerick|
|Thurs 19 Dec 2019||11am||Limerick City and County Council Headquarters, Merchant's Quay, Limerick|
|Wed 19 Feb 2020||9am||Chief Executive’s Boardroom, Limerick City and County Council Headquarters, Merchant's Quay, Limerick.|
|Wed 11 Mar 2020||11am||Newcastle West Municipal District Office, Aras William Smith O’Brien, Newcastle West, Co. Limerick.|
|Tue 16 Jun 2020||11am||Virtual Meeting|
|Mon 29th June 2020||3pm||Virtual Meeting|
|Tues 14th July 2020||11am||Virtual Meeting|
|Mon 27th July 2020||10am||Council Chamber, Dooradoyle, Limerick|
|Mon 27th July 2020||2pm||Council Chamber, Dooradoyle, Limerick|
|Thurs 30th July 2020||11am||Virtual Meeting|
|Thurs 20th August 2020||11am||Virtual Meeting|
|Thurs 3rd September 2020||3.30pm||Virtual Meeting|
|Tues 15th September 2020||11am||Virtual Meeting|
|Thurs 15th October 2020||11am||Virtual Meeting|