Clarity was sought at a meeting of Waterford City and County Council on the roles of newly appointed positions.
Confusion exists over the protocols surrounding the positions of Cathaoirleach of Waterford City and County Council and Mayor of the Waterford Metropolitan District.
At the council’s July meeting, a document aiming to determine the duties and responsibilities of the positions of Cathaoirleach and Mayor of the Metropolitan District as part of the Local Government Reform Act 2014 came before Councillors for ratification.
CEO of Waterford City and County Council Michael Walsh said there was a “lack of clarity” surrounding the positions.
He said that there appeared to be a “conflict” between the roles and added that there was also a lack of clarity in the public domain surrounding the roles.
“By putting together a set of protocols we can bring some clarity to the roles. Protocols are necessary and it’s a matter for the council to decide on them,” said Mr Walsh.
He said that, in terms of the legal position, the Cathaoirleach of the entire council was recognised as the first citizen of Waterford.
However, Independent Councillor for the Tramore-Waterford City West area said it was not acceptable that the Mayor of the Metropolitan area was now effectively the “third citizen” of Waterford.
“First is the Cathaoirleach, second is the Leas-Cathaoirleach, and third is the Mayor,” he said.
“Waterford is an old and traditional city and during this year of the 1100 celebrations we are trying to attract people to the city. But at the same time, we are downgrading our Mayor of the Metropolitan area to the third citizen,” he said.
Cllr Kelly said this was a further downgrading of the city metropolitan area.
“It is a huge downgrading to the role of Mayor and a further blow to the city of Waterford,” he said.
“It’s only a matter of time until we have no Mayor for the entire metropolitan district,” he added.
Cllr Kelly said he still believed the amalgamation of Waterford city and county councils was wrong, and had “yet to be proven otherwise”.
The protocol document distributed to councillors at the meeting stated that the Cathaoirleach of the council was the first citizen of Waterford and “should accordingly take precedence at all events he/she is attending”.
The document states that the Cathaoirleach should: represent the council at all functions external to Waterford; receive any distinguished guests of the Corporate entity; represent the council at all events in Waterford as a whole that are of such scale, attendance or interest as to have a county-wide dimension; signing of contracts; opening of infrastructural projects; presentation of grants/ funding; representing city and county on national and international stage and at major sporting events.
The document states that in the event of uncertainty, any matter should be referred to the Corporate Policy Group (CPG) for determination.
Meanwhile, the document states that the roles of the Mayor are to: preside over all meetings of the Metropolitan and Municipal District members; and to represent the respective District Members at any functions in their respective areas unless he/she so delegates.
In addition, the Mayor should be entitled to speak first and be addressed first at such functions within the relevant districts where the Cathaoirleach of the local authority is not present.
The Mayor will have a significant public role in the Metropolitan District and will be the primary local elected member at the following events: Christmas and Easter Masses; the Christmas Carol Service at Christ Church; St Patrick’s Day Mass; reclaiming the river (ceremonial firing of a spear in the estuary); and funerals of former city mayors.
It was agreed upon by the council to defer further discussion on the issue until further clarity had been established surrounding the exact duties of each position.