CORK'S new Lord Mayor has urged City Hall management not to forget the city's living core when mapping out developments and expansions in the coming years.
Independent Councillor Mick Finn was last night elected Lord Mayor for the coming 12 months, succeeding Fianna Fail's Tony Fitzgerald in the role.
Mr Finn, a 46-year-old from Friar's Walk, is the first Lord Mayor from the South Parish since Sean Martin in 2004 and the first Independent to be elected to the role in more than 70 years.
The coming year is likely to be a busy one for Mr Finn, coming as the city prepares for an influx of office and housing developments, as well as the first extension of the city boundaries in 50 years, a move which will increase the population of Cork City by 90,000 people.
In preparing for these changes, Mr Finn implored city planners and management not to forget about the living core of the city centre.
"We need to look after our traditional residential communities and not lumber them with large private apartment blocks or student units, without a strong strategic hand guiding the future design of the city," he said.
"A living city needs established residential communities at its core and I urge management and planners to remember this when it comes to planning the future of the city and protecting communities that have taken generations to develop and which distinguish Cork from everywhere else."
Mr Finn spoke positively about Cork's future, invoking the words of Terence Mac Swiney, Tomas Mac Curtain and John F Kennedy in looking forward to a year of opportunity.
"Cork is looking outward and forward with confidence," he said.
"We are a city rising: 5000 jobs are in the making across several major capital developments already under construction, with the promise of more to come."
These include offices and hotels, with the new Lord Mayor encouraging city management and central government to ensure that Cork has the infrastructure in roads and housing - described as the city's most pressing need - to handle the growth.
"5000 plus new jobs are to be welcomed in an enlarged city but all of the developments mentioned are certain to pose difficulties for council and government: where will all these people live? How will they be able to access the city from the new suburbs? What will happen to our cost of living," he asked.
"Managing a change with one eye on the past and another on the future will represent a major challenge for a bigger Cork city but one that I am confident we are well positioned to tackle."
Mr Finn's election was not opposed on the night.
Tributes were also paid to the outgoing Lord Mayor, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald at last night's AGM, with speakers from all parties paying tribute to the Knocknaheeny councillors hard work throughout the year.
Members praised his diligence and hard work, with fellow Knocknaheeny man Thomas Gould (Sinn Fein) commending him for 'showing what people from the area' can do on a wide scale.
The election of a new Deputy Lord Mayor also took place, with Cllr Thomas Moloney receiving the backing of council in a vote against fellow Independent Kieran McCarthy.
Mr Moloney, a youth and community worker, said he hopes to see a focus on youth and community facilities and housing throughout the coming year.
He succeeds fellow Togher councillor Fergal Dennehy in taking the deputy role.