AN INDEPENDENT report on the allocation of state funding to local authorities has provided evidence that Cork County Council is unfairly treated in relation to population and geographic size, Director of Services Niall Healy has told elected members.
The report, which was carried out by the All Island Research Observatory in Maynooth University, found that county-based allocation models resulted in under-resourcing.
From the study, Mr Healy presented a number of findings that councillors described as “stark” and “startling”.
South Cork, which has a population of 151,000, is on par with the entire population of Kerry, at 147,000, while West Cork, which has a population of 89,974, and North Cork, with a population of 90,498, are similar to Kilkenny and Westmeath.
The report outlined that if the divisions were standalone authorities, West Cork would be the eighth largest in the country in geographic size, North Cork would be 10th, and South Cork would be 13th.
Mr Healy said that the report showed that Cork county was being treated unfairly.
In relation to trying to operate as a local authority with unbalanced grant opportunities, Mr Healy said it was “like one if not both of our hands are tied behind our back”.
Fianna Fáil councillor Patrick Gerard Murphy said it was a very unlevel playing field and Cork county was “severely disadvantaged”.
“It is great to see it in black and white,” said Mr Murphy.
Independent councillor Ben Dalton O’Sullivan said the report was key in showing the local authority was not getting a fair share of the funding.
Fine Gael councillor Anthony Barry said the information was “nothing we didn’t know already” but said the report would be helpful to “impress on the State” the severity of the problem.
“This is not for us, it is for the people,” said Mr Barry. “We are just looking for a fair crack of the whip.”
Labour councillor James Kennedy said it was time to take the matter by the scruff of the neck.
“We have to go right to the top,” said Mr Kennedy.
County Mayor Mary Linehan-Foley said she would be seeking a deputation with the Cork Oireachtas members to discuss the matter, along with Cork County Council chief executive Tim Lucey.
The council is also expected to send hard copies of the report to senior civil servants, secretaries general, and Oireachtas members to ensure its point is made.