Cathaoirleach of the council
Every year, each local authority elects a chair called the Cathaoirleach for a term of one year and a deputy chair called the Leas-Cathaoirleach from among its members. The members elected for each municipal district elect a Cathaoirleach and a Leas-Chathaoirleach for their grouping.
The Cathaoirleach chairs the meetings of the local authority or municipal district. The Leas-Cathaoirleach chairs meetings when the Cathaoirleach is not present.
Alternative titles to Cathaoirleach and Leas-Chathaoirleach may be used in some cases. Cork and Dublin City Councils are entitled to use the titles Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor. Limerick City and County Council, Waterford City and County Council and Galway City Council can use the titles Mayor and Deputy Mayor.
The following municipal districts can use the titles Mayor and Deputy Mayor:
- The municipal districts which were formerly Limerick City Council and Waterford City Council
- The municipal districts which were formerly borough councils - Clonmel, Drogheda, Kilkenny, Sligo and Wexford
- Municipal districts which include a town with a population of at least 20,000
County councils are not entitled to use the titles of Mayor or Deputy Mayor.
Role and responsibilities of the Cathaoirleach
The Cathaoirleach takes the chair (or presides) at meetings of the local authority or municipal district. On an occasion where this is an equal division of votes on an issue, they may exercise a second or casting vote (except in the case of when a new Cathaoirleach is being elected).
The Cathaoirleach is responsible for the conduct of business and maintenance of order at meetings and can call for (or requisition) a special meeting of the council and obtain information from the chief executive on relevant matters.
Election of the Cathaoirleach
Every local authority or municipal district must elect one of it's member to hold office for a term of one year, until a successor is elected at the next annual meeting. It is possible that someone may be re-elected for a successive term. This election takes place at the annual meeting and is the first business of the meeting to take place. There are special rules which apply to the election of the Cathaoirleach and these rules are set out in Section 37 of the Local Government Act, 2001.
If a casual vacancy occurs in the office of the Cathaoirleach, (for example, if he or she dies or resigns) the members of the local authority or municipal district elect one of their number to take office for the remaining period.
The Cathaoirleach of the local authority or municipal district only serves for one year. A person may, however, be re-elected for a successive term.
In the case of local authorities, the Cathaoirleach chairs the Corporate Policy Group (GPG), a committee which provides a forum to consider policy issues that affect the entire Council. Read more about local authority committees here.
The office of the Cathaoirleach also has a representational role on behalf of the local authority. This means that the Cathaoirleach represents the local authority at civic, public and ceremonial events.
A person acting as Cathaoirleach is paid an annual allowance that is fixed by the local authority.
How to apply
In order to serve as Cathaoirleach of a local authority or municipal district, you must be an elected member of the authority. Further information on nomination of candidates for local authority elections is available here. Information on local elections is available here.