The first extension of Cork city's boundary since 1965 has taken a significant step forward after the Cabinet approved the Implementation Oversight Group's (IOG) report on the Mackinnon review.
The 26-page report was delivered to Local Government Minister Eoghan Murphy and recommends the extension be progressed through primary legislation rather than a ministerial order.
The extension will most likely now have to be debated in the Dáil and Seanad but the document does not make provision for any form of public consultation in the affected areas – a process Cork County Council had asked for.
Last week, the chief executives of both Cork city and county councils agreed to a deal for Blarney, Glanmire, Ballincollig and Tower to become part of the city.
It is understood the map given to the Minister has not been finalised and Cork Airport, Hop Island, Glanmire, Inniscarra and Monard are still under consideration.
County Mayor Declan Hurley said he has received the report and councillors will give it “due consideration”.
“What is certain is that this report is hugely significant for Cork. Its recommendations will have profound implications for the future of Cork – both city and county – and will shape how the region will develop and grow in the years ahead,” he added.
County councillors will debate the issue at a statutory meeting on Friday.
City Councillor John Buttimer (FG) said the approval of the report by Cabinet marks a historic day for Cork.
“The general outline is now there but there will be some discussion on the financial package of compensation,” he said.
“The next steps, I imagine, will be about some meaningful community engagement, sorting out the electoral areas and the number of seats.
The city will lose seats and the new areas coming in will have additional seats. An electoral boundary commission is in place and this will form part of their work.
“It's a historic day for the city and for the country in terms of how a new metropolitan area is being created and developed.
“What we have is an opportunity to develop a metropolitan Cork and a very strong rural Cork based on a network of rural towns,” he added.
County councillor and Fianna Fáil party leader Seamus McGrath said he fully agrees the city must be extended but has been disappointed with the process, describing it as “undemocratic”.
“My reaction is one of disappointment that the Cabinet saw fit to approve it as there are key issues that are still outstanding, chief among them is that there are are five areas which still require clarification - even on the map that was submitted to the Cabinet,” he said.
“The boundary line, I hope, will move in some of those areas because in the area of Rochestown [Hop Island] the difference between what the city councillors were shown and what county councillors were shown is quite significant.
“County Council is one of the key players in this debate and we took a decision that there should be consultation in the areas that are directly affected like Ballincollig, Blarney and Tower. It appears there is no reference to public consultation in the report. That is a very undemocratic way to proceed in what it a once in century change. It should only be drawn when everything is clarified, pinned down and when the communities have had their say,” Mr McGrath added.
County Council received legal advice in relation to the boundary extension in September. Several county councillors have asked for that to now be made available to them so it can be clarified if it is applicable under the circumstances The County Council executive has said they will seek advice on whether they can furnish councillors with those documents.
However, it is believed the advice focuses on a ministerial order rather than legislation.