Ballincollig residents have expressed serious concerns and opposition to the proposed boundary extension for Cork City at a public meeting last night.
Ballincollig is one of several county towns which would be subsumed into the city if the proposals are pushed through and an implementation group has already been set up by Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy to finalise boundaries before the 2019 local elections.
Local Fine Gael Cllr Derry Canty described the proposals as a “land grab” for the purposes of City Council funding the development of its docklands and urged locals to lobby their local TDs and write to Ministers expressing their concerns, while pointing out that hopes of Ballincollig gaining its own municipal district in the future would be gone if it was to become a city ward.
Guest speaker Alf Smiddy, who was the chair of a report which recommended the merger of City Council and Cork County Council in 2015, said at a local information meeting that he feared the proposals for a city extension were being “rammed through this month without any consultation with the people of Cork” and described it as “the greatest local democracy con job of all time”.
Mr Smiddy said it was a “defining moment” for rural towns and villages and added the MacKinnon report would be a “disaster for Cork”.
Fianna Fáil’s Daithi O’Donnabahin criticised the public consultation undertaken in the MacKinnon report and called for a Cork wide plebiscite before any plans are finalised.
President of the Ballincollig Business Association and local resident Emer Cassidy stated that she was yet to hear from City Council as to what they could give to the people of Ballincollig and had only heard what they were going to take.
“What we’re afraid of is that the focus will be on the city and our jobs will go. We don’t need the city and we can’t see the benefit because we have a proven track record here,” she said.
Local retailer Donie Desmond said the process so far was akin to bullying, while west Ballincollig resident Cal Barrett said that the vast majority of locals considered themselves as county people and would oppose being moved into the city to become a ward.
Only one city councillor, Kieran McCarthy, attended the meeting. While he said he disagreed with “90%” of local’s concerns and Ballincollig was not on its way to becoming a “mystical mini city” he said he felt that central Government had pitted City Council and County Council against each other and called for a wider debate on the issue.
County Council called an emergency meeting to discuss the boundary extension this morning.