Showdown looms between the city and county

Showdown looms between the city and county
County Hall building. Pic Denis Scannell

TENSIONS have deepened between Cork County Council and Cork City Council over the proposed boundary extension, with both sides throwing accusations at each other.

Cork County Mayor Seamus McGrath has described the acceptance of the report by Cork City Council as a "disgrace" and “irresponsible”.

However, City Council Chief Executive Ann Doherty has said she is disappointed with what she calls “inaccuracies and accusations” levelled at City Hall.

The proposed extension would see a number of County areas such as Ballincollig, Blarney, Glounthane, Carrigtwohill, Glanmire, Little Island and Cork Airport moved into the city jurisdiction.

County Mayor McGrath said Cork County Council would give the report proper, thorough assessment and open debate on it, which he said was in “stark” contrast to their city counterparts.

“In my view, the City Council accepted the report without discussion or debate, a move which I would describe as astounding,” he said.

“I would go as far as to say it is irresponsible. This is the most significant proposal for local government in a generation,” he added.

Chief Executive of Cork County Council Tim Lucey said that at a time when Cork faces significant economic challenges “we should be minimising complexities in governance and structure”.

“It is the view of Cork County Council that given the many significant queries and uncertainties which remain in relation to the report, it is totally premature to consider participation in an implementation phase at this stage,” he added.

Mayor McGrath said he had particular concerns about strategic development being transferred to the Cork Economic Development and Planning Board, which he described as “undemocratic”.

The County Council is now seeking a meeting with the new Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy and the Expert Advisory Group that delivered the Mackinnon Report.

New City Lord Mayor Tony Fitzgerald is in favour of the proposed boundary extension and believes it will consolidate Cork's position as the second city.

City Council Chief Executive Ann Doherty said there is now concern that an implementation group which is tasked with reporting to the Government on the feasibility of report recommendations being implemented before the 2019 local government elections will not be able to do so.

“I have been very disappointed by the tenor of documents, press releases and public statements from Cork County Council. They have levelled inaccuracies and accusations at Cork City Council that are unfounded,” she said in a statement.

Ms Doherty went on to criticise the approach of Cork County Council who are in favour a 'One Cork' approach - a single local authority to govern the entire city and county. 

 “It was gratifying to see that the MacKinnon Report was very strong in highlighting the need for a unified voice for Cork, clearly differentiating that approach from the flawed concept of a single voice for Cork. 

"Cork has a key strength in its diversity of communities, a strength that would be threatened by any misplaced agenda that fails to recognise the very different needs of rural communities and those of a modern urban focused population,” she said.

County Council Fianna Fáil party leader Frank O'Flynn has described the boundary extension as “a raid”.

“I never met as many people who are so irate. We are fighting for the survival of the county, If the report goes ahead in its present from it would devastate the county,” he said.

Fine Gael Ballincollig-Carrigaline councillor Derry Canty said the Mackinnon Report was a “smack in the face of the work of County Council” who should “shred it”.

“I have told Minister Coveney there will be the O.K Corral in the Main St in Ballincollig if this is implemented,” he added.

West Cork Fianna Fáil Cllr Joe Carroll said he is concerned that county areas in his constituency not included to in the proposed boundary extension would be isolated.

“You might go on holidays [to West Cork] but take a helmet because the ditches won't even be cut. We are going to be left hungry. They are only taking what they want. They need to treat us with respect. We are not fools,” he added.

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