MINISTER Simon Coveney has warned that the Government won't be "dictated to" after Cork County Council issued a terse ultimatum on the extension of Cork City's boundary yesterday.
Cork County Council has given the Government until Monday to indicate a willingness to appoint an independent mediator to oversee boundary extension negotiations with Cork City Council or face legal proceedings in the High Court to prevent the Mackinnon boundary report being implemented.
County Mayor Declan Hurley has written to Local Government Minister Eoghan Murphy to tell him the MacKinnon report - which recommends the extension of Cork city to include Ballincollig, Carrigrohane, Blarney, Glanmire, Carrigtowhill and Cork Airport - has “no legal standing” and would render County Council financially unviable.
The letter describes the Mackinnon report as a “calamitous proposal” and comes after chair of the Implementation Oversight Group John O’Connor was granted extended powers by the Minister under Section 224 of the Local Government Act. The move appointed him as an authorised officer of the Government and compels County officials and elected members to cooperate with him without prejudice to their own policy.
The letter reads: “This appointment has created a situation whereby if Cork County Council officials and elected members do not cooperate with a process of agreeing a boundary based on the Expert Advisory Group they are liable to criminal prosecution and imprisonment.
“This is an intolerable imposition on the rights of an independent local authority and accordingly the Council has no alternative but to take legal action in the High Court, including obtaining declaratory and injunctive relief to vindicate its rights, and has resolved to have the proceedings drafted as a matter of urgency.”
However, Minister Simon Coveney, who set up the MacKinnon review group, responded today by saying:
"I don’t think that the Government can be dictated to by Cork County Council. I mean, of course, we need to listen to the concerns of Cork County Council and I’ll be speaking to councillors this week.
"I think Cork County Council have some legitimate concerns that need to be listened to but I don’t think that Cork County Council can dictate the whole process.
"I don’t think it is likely that we are going to have an independent mediator to start the process of assessing the boundary again.
"What’s required is rational discussion. I’ve been a member of Cork County Council I understand some of the concerns that they have. I want to talk to them about that and the Minister concerned who needs to make a final decision. We also don’t have a final recommendation from the implementation group either.
There are a number of ongoing pieces of work at the moment and I don’t think we should be anticipating the outcome of that in the way that some people have