BATTLE lines have been drawn in the dispute over local government in Cork, with the County Council refusing to budge over the future of Ballincollig, Carrigaline, Cork Airport and Little Island.
These areas had all been earmarked to transfer into an expanded Cork City Council under the MacKinnon Report, a Government-issued document which outlined a revamp to local government in Co Cork by the 2019 local election.
However, county councillors have refused to relent, claiming that the proposed changes would leave the county struggling to provide essential services.
A counter-proposal issued by Cork County Council has offered to cede areas like Douglas, Frankfield, Grange, Rochestown and Ballyvolane, creating a new, expanded Cork City Council with a population of more than 283,000.
However, key rates bases like Little Island, Ballincollig, Carrigtwhohill and Cork Airport, which had been earmarked for inclusion in the city, would remain in Cork County Council's territory.
Councillors in Cork County have described the counter-proposal as 'sensible and sound', though it has come under criticism in the city.
Cork City Council should accept the 'generous' offer tabled by the County yesterday, according to Fine Gael councillor Kevin Murphy.
Mr Murphy said that the complicated situation would not be helped by Cork City Council 'haggling' over the future boundary.
Similarly, former County Mayor Séamus McGrath said the proposals were 'sound and sensible', adding that it was time to put the issue to bed.
Mr McGrath said, "It's a very sensible and sound proposal. It's almost doubling the size of the city in terms of its geographical area. That's significant and I hope the city will give it proper consideration and hopefully we'll reach a conclusion because this whole process needs to come to an end.
"We need to have certainty and start working again as one entity for Cork rather than battle lines being drawn. What does disappoint me is that this has descended into a mere extension of the boundary so all the reform and restructuring we spoke about in the city and county on working together on an economic plan and tourism is now gone out the window," he added.
However, reaction to the proposals from City Council has not been positive.
Former Lord Mayor, Cllr Chris O'Leary said the counter-offer from Cork County Council misses the point of the MacKinnon report.
"The report says that Cork needs to be a city in size in comparison with second tier cities across Europe," he said.
"It's not down to City Council or County Council to start dictating before the implementation committee has actually convened.
"We will all sit down with them and the bottom line is that it is the committee that will come out with the result after negotiations have finished up. This is County Council trying to exercise some publicity rather than getting on with the work we need to do at this stage."
The proposal will be sent to Local Government Minister Eoghan Murphy. His department is expected to make a decision in the Autumn.