Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has warned that if the two local authorities in Cork cannot reach an agreement on a city boundary extension, a decision will be imposed by central government before Christmas.
Speaking at the Cork Chamber dinner in Dublin last night, the Minister Coveney said the issue needed to be resolved to allow for future planning.
“I hope that between Cork City Council and Cork County Council we will have an agreed position in terms of what those new structures will look like in the coming weeks but let me be very clear: if we are incapable of doing that locally in Cork between the two local authorities, we will do that in Government.” He added: “And this decision will be made before Christmas to give Cork the certainty it needs.” In his presidential address, Chamber President Bill O’Connell said the Government must recognise Cork as Ireland’s second city and the driver of a thriving Southern region.
The initial Government 2040 paper set out how it is in Ireland’s national interest to promote growth outside of Dublin.
Mr O’Connell said: “Against this objective, Cork Chamber does not consider the draft growth targets for cities other than Dublin to be ambitious enough. With the current proposed figures, existing economic imbalance across Ireland will perpetuate, which has a real risk of threatening the attractiveness of our country for future investment and jobs growth”.
But Minister Coveney rejected any suggestion that he was not ambitious enough for Cork, saying: “It is literally about reshaping this country over the next 20 years. We need to invest in a way to ensure that that is not all about Dublin. We need to make sure that the other cities and they regions that they drive are part of that growth story.” He highlighted that Cork was estimated to see the same population growths as the next three cities combined, well over 100,000 people.
“Cork city and county is likely to be asked to accommodate about 20% of the population growth in the next 20 years. Cork will be the fastest growing region in the country for the next two to three decades, in percentage terms.”