CORK county mayor Declan Hurley has launched a scathing attack on the proposed boundary changes, describing the suggestions in the MacKinnon report as ‘nothing short of a joke’.
The County Mayor said the proposals reminded him of a child’s scribble on a map rather than any serious attempt to grow the city.
If the changes go ahead as proposed in the MacKinnon report, Cork Airport, Douglas, Grange, Rochestown, Ballincollig, Blarney, Glanmire, Little Island, and Carrigtwohill would all become part of the city.
“It is quite clear that whoever sketched the boundary line for the Mackinnon Committee has little or no knowledge of the geography of Cork,” said Mr Hurley.
“It’s more reminiscent of a child’s scribble on a map than a logical, considered conclusion. It is a matter of complete wonder to me how anyone could believe that it would work in reality.” He expressed serious concerns about the potential impact on residents in the affected areas and the county as a whole.
On Monday night Cork City Council refused to engage with a proposal from the County Council to cede a smaller area to the city. Instead, they expressed their intention to move ahead with plans to implement the proposals in the MacKinnon report.
“It would appear to me that the authors have no practical knowledge of Cork or of how local government services are best delivered,” Mr Hurley fumed. “For community groups in Ballincollig and the affected areas to be denied access to community funding programmes - such as LEADER to name but one – is a stake in the heart for those communities.” “For residents and farmers in Carrigtwohill to be regarded as city dwellers is nothing short of a joke. For businesses in Blarney to become City ratepayers is ridiculous. It’s simply madness.” The City Council had said that the smaller change suggested by the County would leave the city smaller than Belfast and suggested this would put it at a disadvantage. But Mr Hurley has refuted that by comparing it instead with Dublin.
“What people may not realise is this: the Mackinnon report provides for Cork city to be more than double the physical size of Dublin city. How crazy is that? Dublin being the capital, Cork being the second city, and yet Cork would be two and a half times larger than Dublin in geographic area. In fact, the population density in Dublin would be six times greater than that of Cork. There is no sense or meaning to that.” Fine Gael city councillor Des Cahill rejected Mr Hurley’s comments as being ‘emotional as opposed to factual’.
“I didn’t come up with the map, Mr MacKinnon and the committee did. And it’s not that crazy because Cork Area Strategic Plan (CASP) has been there for a long time and it’s not a million miles from CASP.
“So to come out now and call all of that a scribble, it is peculiar.” CASP was adopted by both councils in 2001, looking forward 20 years, and Mr Cahill pointed out that the new plans are also being created with the future in mind.
“It is not necessarily drawing up a map of the city as it looks now, it is also leaving room for it to expand over the next 50 years. That is the point.
“This is a state issue. We have to have a counterbalance to Dublin. It will continue to grow so we have to position ourselves to also offer a strong urban area for growth. Those are the facts.”