CORK County Council has put on hold a threat to take legal action against the Government on the proposed boundary extension after Local Government Minister Eoghan Murphy agreed to mediation.
County Mayor Declan Hurley wrote to Minister Murphy earlier this month 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 described the Mackinnon report as a “calamitous proposal” and was sent to 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.
In response to Mayor Hurley’s letter, Minister Murphy is reported to have rowed back and intimated there is room for negotiation.
Mayor Hurley told the Evening Echo that negotiations were now “back on track” and council officials will await the outcome of an IOG meeting on Thursday before making any further moves.
“The Minister’s visit to Cork saw him meet both chief executives from the city and the county. The response I got back from the Minister is positive and I welcome it,” he said.
“We have been three months trying to get the ear of the Minister and, thankfully, we did that when he visited Cork.
“I sense through the chief executive of Cork County Council Tim Lucey, that the tone of the chair of the Implementation Oversight Group has changed too.
“I think we are back on track and we’ve requested mediation. The mediation is going to be provided through the IOG.
“It’s not independent as we requested but it is an acknowledgement that we requested mediation and we are getting it in some form.
“The next IOG meeting is on Thursday and we will hold council until we see the tone of that meeting. It should explain a lot on where the situation is going to go. My preferred next move is to get the two authorities sitting down and coming to an agreed boundary decision.
“[The legal action] was a threat we made and unfortunately we had to make the threat to get a response from the Minister and we stand vindicated in doing that.
“He has listened to our concerns, he has put measures in place and we have to give that time,” Mayor Hurley added.
Cork County Council has agreed to the need for a city extension but has so far only expressed a willingness to give up lands in Ballyvolane, Douglas, Grange, Rochestown and Togher.