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The eighth annual public lecture series of the Centre for Local and Regional Governance (CLRG) takes places in UCC on the night of Thursday 9 November, under the theme of ‘In Defence of Councillors’. Opening remarks will be made by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Councillor Kieran McCarthy and the evening will be chaired by the Head of the Department of Government and Politics, Dr. Mary C. Murphy. The three keynote lectures will be delivered by Dr. Bríd Quinn (formerly of the University of Limerick), Councillor Emma Blain (Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council) and Professor Colin Copus (Ghent University).


The Jane Dowdall and Philip Monahan Awards will also be presented on the night.


*CLRG23 starts at 6.30pm sharp in Kane G_18 on the 9 November. ALL WELCOME.



The seventh Annual Public Lecture Series of UCC’s Centre for Local and Regional Governance (CLRG) took place on Thursday 6 October 2022, under the theme ‘The Challenge of Change’. This was the CLRG’s first public in-person event since March 2020 and it attracted a large crowd to the Boole 1 Lecture theatre. A welcome address was delivered by Dr Theresa Reidy, Head of the Department of Government and Politics. She was followed by Dr. Aodh Quinlivan, who presented his Director’s Report for 2021/22. He highlighted recent publications and research reports, as well as the CLRG’s role in the successful CPD in Climate Crisis and Local Government. Marking their immense contributions to Irish local government, awards were then presented to John Ger O’Riordan and Councillor Mary Roche. O’Riordan retired from Cork City Council in August 2018 after 44 years of dedicated service, while Councillor Roche is the longest serving woman in Waterford local government. Student awards were also presented to Conor Ruth (2021) and Conor Brennan (2022).


The first of the night’s three keynote lectures was delivered by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Councillor Deirdre Forde. She stressed the need for greater diversity in local government, arguing that council chambers should be reflective of the people that they serve. The Lord Mayor also drew attention to a recent gender equality report commissioned by the Cork City Council Women’s Caucus and written by the CLRG.


Dr. David Sweeting, University of Bristol, then described mayoral governance in his city. In a local referendum in 2012, the people of Bristol agreed to introduce a directly elected mayor. However, in May 2022, the city voted to abolish the position in a referendum, replacing it with a committee system from May 2024. Dr. Sweeting highlighted the fact that local councillors in Bristol did not feel that they had a meaningful role in the post-2012 system dominated by a directly elected mayor. In a 2014 survey, nearly 80% of people working in the private and third sectors felt that the introduction of a directly elected mayor had improved the leadership of the city but only 31% of councillors felt the same. Dr. Sweeting concluded that if a directly elected mayoral model is to be revived in Bristol, active attention should be given to developing and strengthening the role of all councillors in the city.


As the final speaker, Jim Gavin talked about his role as Chair of the Dublin Citizens’ Assembly. The last plenary session of the Assembly was held in Dublin Castle on Saturday 1 October and a report – reflecting the recommendations of members – will be submitted to Government before Christmas. Gavin praised the work of the Assembly members and the deliberative democracy process. He admitted that he began the process with little understanding of local government but caught up quickly. He offered fifteen personal reflections (one for each position on a GAA team!) and stressed the need for devolution of powers and finance to not only the directly elected mayor but also the wider local government system. He expressed surprise that the people of Cork city had rejected the idea of a directly elected mayor in the 2019 plebiscite but predicted that the issue would be raised again on Leeside in light of what is likely to happen in Limerick and Dublin.


Sixth Annual Public Lecture Series of UCC’s Centre for Local and Regional Governance (CLRG)

The sixth Annual Public Lecture Series of UCC’s Centre for Local and Regional Governance (CLRG) took place on Thursday 15 April 2021 as a webinar on Zoom. The event was opened by the Head of the Department of Government and Politics Dr. Theresa Reidy. She introduced the Director of the CLRG, Dr. Aodh Quinlivan who gave an overview of the centre’s achievements in 2020, including the publication of Forgotten Lord Mayor and the successful ‘Lunch and Learn’ seminar series for staff of Cork City Council. UCC’s Vice-President for Research and Innovation, Professor John Cryan, then launched the centre’s virtual annual report for 2020 and he described the CLRG as a ‘role model’ within UCC.

The first lecture was delivered by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Hazel Chu. During a wide-ranging talk, she called for enhanced powers for local government and a broadening of the representational base. She noted that she was only the ninth woman to be elected Lord Mayor of Dublin and she queried why the gender quota legislation introduced in 2012 did not extend to local government. Next up was John Moran who spoke about his hopes for a directly elected mayor in Limerick. He argued that while a directly elected mayor provides for greater democratic accountability, the creation of the role must come with a transfer of powers and budget. Moran criticised Ireland’s centralised system of government and the tendency for the centre to micro-manage the local level. He conceded: ‘When I was Secretary General in the Department of Finance, I probably loved the idea of control but, seeing it from the other side, you realise how inappropriate it is’. The final lecture of the night came from the Chief Officer of the Cheshire Association of Local Councils, Jackie Weaver. She stated that local government in the United Kingdom suffered under the weight of centralisation, just like in Ireland. Weaver then turned her attention to attracting more young people into local government. She noted: ‘We have struggled to get young people between the ages of 18-25 involved and interested in local government. We have established youth parliaments and youth councils, but are they actually representative of the youth in the community? With hand on heart, I think we would find it hard to say, “yes, they are”. We have a long way to go but in the last few months there has been an increased engagement with young people. Much of my time now is spent speaking in universities, colleges, and schools. Students are interested in local democracy and their local councils. That is the way forward’.

After a lively questions and answers session, closing remarks were delivered by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Councillor Joe Kavanagh. He complimented the speakers on their presentations and praised the contribution that the CLRG is making in raising awareness about sub-national government at home and abroad.

Link to CLRG2021: - Passcode: ^Fd3lV$w


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Department of Government & Politics

Roinn Léann an Rialtais agus na Polaitíochta

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