N3S1PicWATERFORD’S outgoing Metropolitan Mayor says he believes that Council management “don’t want” the position.
Speaking to The Munster Express about his year as Metropolitan Mayor, Cllr John Hearne (SF) says he believes the role is viewed as causing “hassle” for Council officials and claims he was not included on a mailing list containing details of official invites and events throughout the year.
“I don’t think the management want a Metro Mayor at all. I was taken off the mailing list so I couldn’t see what invites had come in,” he said.
When asked why he wasn’t receiving such notifications of events and invites, he says he was told it was to “avoid confusion”.
“I didn’t have a say. Management said everything goes to the Mayor and he has first and second choice on everything,” he said. “But if you’re First Citizen of the city, you should know what’s happening,” he added.
At the start of his tenure, he said he was keen to meet with Mayor of Waterford City & County Cllr Adam Wyse (FF) in order to put aside any “tensions” which may have existed between the roles of Mayor and Metropolitan Mayor in the past.
“Myself and Adam met and we said that we could make this a great year for both of us and, not just for ourselves, but for Waterford as well,” he explained.
Both men agreed that anytime both were in a room together, only one would wear their Mayoral chain in order to avoid confusion.
“We have a grown-up relationship. Adam was very fair and we got on like a house on fire. We have great respect for each other,” he said.
In a recent interview with The Munster Express, Mayor Adam Wyse was also high in his praise of John Hearne.
“I said to John at the start that I want to get through the year working with you and not against you. We never once had an argument. He’s done a fantastic job in his role as Mayor,” he said.
Adam Wyse says many people still don’t understand why there are two Mayors, adding that he received a lot of comments at the start of his tenure asking about who is the actual Mayor.
He says the duties of both Mayors are clearly stipulated in Council standing orders and says there was never any “competition” between the two roles during his tenure.
“We were both going to get an extremely high amount of coverage during the year,” he said.
“I call him my fellow Mayor.”
However, John Hearne says his issue is with the Council management and their attitude towards the role of Metropolitan Mayor.
“The management don’t want the Metropolitan Mayor. It’s hassle to them. They’d prefer to have a ‘Cathaoirleach’,” he said.
“But if the Japanese Ambassador, or whoever comes to visit Waterford, they won’t know what a Cathaoirleach is. They want to meet the Mayor.”
Following the amalgamation of Waterford City and County Councils, the title of Cathaoirleach of Waterford City & County Council was created.
However, concerns were expressed by many Councillors that the role which had previously been known as Mayor of Waterford City had, as a result, been relegated to ‘Third Citizen’ and confusion existed over the duties of both the Cathaoirleach and the Mayor.
A document aiming to determine the duties and responsibilities of the positions of Cathaoirleach and Mayor as part of the Local Government Reform Act 2014 came before Councillors for ratification.
Councillors later voted on a 25-7 majority that the Cathaoirleach of the Council should instead carry the title of ‘Mayor of Waterford City & County’.
However, the City also retained a Mayoral title and the position has since been referred to as the ‘Metropolitan Mayor’.
While John Hearne says there are “very few things in theory that the Metropolitan Mayor does”, he says his connections with many different community groups ensured that he was invited to many different events during his tenure.
“Before I was even elected, I was associated with many community groups so many would have contacted me directly,” he said.
“There is enough work for the two Mayors. We’re not short of work. We’d be smothered and overrun with work if there weren’t two roles.”
He says the most important thing is to “maintain the integrity of the office and to give it the respect it deserves” and he is hopeful that the role will remain despite his fears over how officials view the position.
“The only people who can abolish it are the members and I can’t see that happening,” he said.