‘End Dublin Rule in Cork’

‘End Dublin Rule in Cork’
John McCarthy speaking at the "End Dublin Rule in Cork" meeting hosted by the Green Party at the Bodega last night. Photo: Billy macGill

THE disproportionate amount of political power in Dublin has held back the rest of the country and Cork politicians don’t have the ambition to address that, according to speakers at a public meeting last night.

The Green Party organised an ‘End Dublin Rule in Cork’ discussion in association with the Save Cork City campaign group to discuss the lack of power in local democracy and the imposition of decisions by Dublin on Cork, such as the planned flood wall scheme.

Attending the "End Dublin Rule in Cork" meeting hosted by the Green Party at the Bodega last night. Photo: Billy macGill
Attending the "End Dublin Rule in Cork" meeting hosted by the Green Party at the Bodega last night. Photo: Billy macGill

John McCarthy, an engineer involved in Save Cork City, presented figures showing the political imbalance between Dublin and the rest of the country.

Dublin representatives have nine seats at the Cabinet table, compared to 10 for the rest of the country, a 47% to 53% split, despite Dublin only having 28% of the population.

There are three Munster TDs at Cabinet for Munster’s 1.2 million population, but nine for Dublin’s 1.3 million.

“The country is run by Dublin. Dublin are playing us for fools. The cabinet is absolutely dominated disproportionately by Dublin voices,” he said.

“You have the Cork politicians sitting there going ‘no, we won’t have a Luas, the bus will do us fine’. Or ‘we won’t have a tidal barrier, walls will do us fine’,” added Mr McCarthy.

The meeting also heard that Cork should not be treated as being at the same level as other cities outside the capital, as it is almost as big as the others combined.

Limerick, Galway, Waterford, and their suburbs have a population of 227,630 people, compared to 208,669 for Cork and its suburbs.

Mr McCarthy said that the 58,000 people living in the the towns around Cork harbour are more than the 53,000 living in the whole of Waterford.

Detailing the history of local government in Cork, the Green Party’s Lorna Bogue spoke about the dissolution of Cork City Council by the Free State government in 1923.

She said that the government of the time was able to dissolve a council if it disagreed with it, and that little has changed.

Lorna Bogue, Organiser, Lucia O'Donovan and Mary Ryder at the "End Dublin Rule in Cork" meeting hosted by the Green Party at the Bodega last night. Photo: Billy macGill
Lorna Bogue, Organiser, Lucia O'Donovan and Mary Ryder at the "End Dublin Rule in Cork" meeting hosted by the Green Party at the Bodega last night. Photo: Billy macGill

“That’s still the case in 2018. The central government can abolish a local council if they choose to,” she said.

Under Fine Gael since 2011, all town councils were abolished and several councils were merged, as well as the forcing of a major boundary change in Cork.

Mr McCarthy said that the office of Lord Mayor had also been “devalued greatly”, and that power has been centralised within the public service.

“There is no credible Mayor in Cork anymore. The chain is passed around in this consensus politics you have.

“There is no opposition. There is nobody in control of Cork City Council except the executive,” he said.

Solidarity city councillor Fiona Ryan said that the government regularly takes executive decisions which the council then has to fund, like deciding to bring forward the date for the restoration of public sector pay levels earlier this year.

“The government didn’t provide the money to fund it. They said, ‘you have to find that money in your existing budget that was passed three months ago,” she said.

She said that councillors lack real power when it comes to budgeting.

“The budget is really the only thing the councillors have any real say in, and even within that we only have the authority to move funds within a department.

“We can’t say we want to take X amount of money from this and give it to that.

“We can’t do it. We can only shift the money within that department and not beyond that,” she said.

She said that councillors are “paralysed by fear” of losing central funding for certain projects if they question them or try and change them.

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