Martin blasts Government's 'shambolic' campaign as elected mayor hopes fade
The plebiscite for a directly elected lord mayor in Cork is on course to be defeated, as Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin slated the Government's handling of the campaign as "shambolic".
Counting in the plebiscite begins today in Cork City Hall, with partial tallies indicating it will be comfortably rejected by Cork voters.
Similar plebiscites were staged in Waterford and Limerick.
However, the Cork plebiscite only covered Cork City Council and did not extend to Cork County Council areas.
Tanaiste Simon Coveney, who was a high-profile backer of directly elected lord mayors in Cork, had warned it would be "a golden opportunity missed" if the move was rejected by voters.
However, Mr Martin said the campaign had not been properly prepared and was run on an "off the cuff" basis.
The Fianna Fail leader said a white paper on the proposal should have been prepared - with detailed answers to issues such as mayoral powers, funding and accountability available to voters.
"None of that was done - it was absolutely shambolic," he said.
"And I publicly said so."
In Cork, the campaign was dominated by a row over where any directly elected mayor's funding would come from.
In a further embarrassment for the Government, the plebiscite is facing defeat in Cork, despite the proposal for a directly elected lord mayor being endorsed by all of the major political parties.
Mr Coveney said that a directly elected lord mayor would help drive Cork's bid to act as a counterweight to Dublin and the eastern seaboard.
Speaking last week, he said: "I think we are likely to see a directly elected lord mayor in Dublin in the not-too-distant future."
In relation to a directly elected mayor for Dublin, the issue is to be referred to a citizens' assembly.
Dubliners will be asked in 2021 if they want to have a directly elected mayor, depending on the outcome of the citizens' assembly on the issue, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said last month.