A ceding of several large county land areas and the transfer of over 82,000 people to the city has moved a step closer with the final map for a boundary extension presented to county councillors.
County chief executive Tim Lucey has said that the presentation of the map to Local Government Minister Eoghan Murphy is now imminent after the Implementation Oversight Group (IOG) finalised the boundaries late last week.
Mr Lucey said that draft legislation is now being prepared and is set to be published by May before being rubber stamped before the Dáil’s summer recess It will then be sent to the Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee so it can begin work ahead of the 2019 local elections.
Mr Lucey said it is the largest change programme ever undertaken by the two local authorities – 40% bigger than the population of Limerick City Council which merged with the County Council in 2014.
He has requested that the Department of Local Government provides eight additional staff to establish a high-level implementation team to direct the process for County Council.
All financial matters related to the extension will be agreed by mid-April, Mr Lucey added.
The IOG report on the boundary extension was approved by Cabinet in December with Ballincollig, Blarney, Tower, Rochestown, Frankfield and Douglas recommended to be subsumed into the city.
However, the map at that time outlined adjustments that were needed at Cork Airport, Glanmire, Hop Island and Inniscarra. These have been resolved but the boundary line at the Monard Strategic Development Zone is still subject to adjustment.
Several councillors have expressed their frustration about not having their views on the boundary considered by the IOG.
County Mayor Declan Hurley said he feels there has been a “blatant disregard” for members since the process started. He said councillors had done all they can. “Our work is done here. If the Pope came in here now, he couldn’t change it,” he said.
He urged elected members to lobby members of Oireachtas in their own constituencies to have local concerns voiced in the Dáil.
Ballincollig-reprsentative Derry Canty (FG) stated he feels the extension is being “rammed down people’s throats" and he is “disgusted” with the process, while Marcia D’Alton (IND) said she is annoyed that Hop Island is included despite being reassured that it would remain in the county, “Nobody has listened. Why are we here? This is our jobs,” she added.
Seamus McGrath (FF), described the extension as a “retrograde step for Cork”, while Kevin Murphy (FG) said Cork County Council were the “substantial losers” in the process and staffing would become a huge issue for the local authority in the aftermath of the extension.