Citizens may have the opportunity to elect the mayor of the city in 2024 after city councillors backed a motion calling on the Minister for Local Government Darragh O'Brien to hold a plebiscite vote for a directly elected mayor with executive functions on Monday evening.
Currently the mayor is elected by the 18 councillors who sit in the chamber but Social Democrats councillor Owen Hanley, who put forward the motion at the local authority's special meeting at Leisureland, said it was a shame the people of Galway were not give the option to decide on the matter unlike there counterparts in Cork, Waterford, and Limerick.
Cllr Hanley said; "It is not controversial in Irish politics to say local government is in need of reform. But not only has this issue not been followed through on but the situation has gotten worse.
When will Galway have its say?
Funding for local government has continued to be below historical or European comparisons, the Local Government Reform Act 2014 has negative consequences still not fully resolved including the abolition of town councils, and the democratic deficit between councillors and executive decision making remain significant. I think with that context there is an opportunity for a directly elected Mayor with executive functions to be a key step in evolving our local authority.
'People don't want to see another politician for the sake of it, or an overpaid role'
"In May 2019, Cork, Waterford, and Limerick held a plebiscite vote during their local elections on whether or not to have a directly elected Mayor. Cork and Waterford voted against the proposal, Limerick voted for it and is progressing the remit of the role.
"It's a shame Galway residents were not given a vote on the issue, this is a corrective. There are also lessons to learn from the failed proposals. People don't want to see another politician for the sake of it, or an overpaid role that they don't see increased accountability or democratic action.
"We need a genuine position of financial and long term decision making that improves executive performance and vision while collaborating with elected councillors."
Mayor Mike Cubbard said it was only right the people of Galway should have the option to ask whether they should have a say in directly electing the mayor.
While the motion received unanimous backing, independent councillor Colette Connolly did raise concerns that those with bigger resources would be at a distinct advantage in a public vote for the position.
Chief executive of the council, Brendan McGrath, told the chamber that a plebiscite vote for Mayor was a matter for Dáil Éireann.