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Cork boundary change needs a ministerial decision

ENOUGH with the debate - it's time for a ministerial decision on Cork's local government boundary, according to a UCC expert in local government.

Dr Aodh Quinlivan, director of the centre for local and regional governance at UCC, also said that the final boundary will be 'meaningless' if local authorities in Ireland don't receive enhanced decision-making powers.

An implementation oversight body is currently reviewing submissions from both local authorities following a meeting earlier this month.

While Cork City Council is favouring the extension recommended in the Mackinnon report issued this summer, Cork County Council has triggered an alternative process that involves ceding a smaller amount of land under a provision of the 1991 Local Government Act.

UCC Local Government expert, Dr Aodh Quinlivan. Pic: Larry Cummins
UCC Local Government expert, Dr Aodh Quinlivan. Pic: Larry Cummins
Dr Quinlivan said that a final decision on the redrawn city-county boundary should be made after the current work by the implementation committee.

"We have had the Smiddy report, the Keogh/Reidy report, the Bovaird report and the Mackinnon report. How many more do we need," he said.

"We need a ministerial decision after the current work by the implementation committee is completed. I don't think that it should go back out for further discussion and report."

He said that time is becoming an important factor.

"There is a potential issue regarding the 2019 General Election.

Whatever changes are planned are due to be in place ahead of that election," he said.

"Perhaps there is a strategy in delaying a decision until after that but time is an issue."

Dr Quinlivan said that where the final line ends up may not even matter if major changes aren't seen in local government powers nationally.

"An important point that seems to have been forgotten in the debate is the general architecture of local government in Ireland. For Cork, this is not just about the top line but the bottom line too: town councils," he said.

"We went from having two local authorities and fourteen town councils to almost having one single authority. These issues go hand in hand and it needs to be examined again.