Cork's Lord Mayor: 'Developments will lift city to new levels'

The Lord Mayor of Cork has described the planned major developments for Cork city as "transformative" and says "we want more for Cork", writes Amy Nolan. 
Cork's Lord Mayor: 'Developments will lift city to new levels'

The Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Deirdre Forde, at the City Hall. INSET: The development of the South Dock will be in conjunction with the city council’s plans for the new Marina Park which, when completed, will be six times larger than Fitzgerald’s Park. Picture Dan Linehan

THE Lord Mayor of Cork has welcomed the planning approval for major developments in the city’s South Docks, which she believes will create a “showcase for Cork” once they are completed.

Last December, O’Callaghan Properties (OCP), through Leeside Quays Ltd, lodged a planning application with Cork City Council for a significant mixed-use development including new homes, office space, cafés, retail, and a cinema, and a separate planning application for a proposed rehabilitation hospital all within the city’s South Docks.

Cork City Council has now approved both applications, subject to a number of conditions.

OCP also confirmed they intend to seek planning permission for the development of 1,300 apartments on the adjoining Gouldings site in South Docks, under the Large Scale Residential Development (LRD) process.

Speaking to The Echo, Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Deirdre Forde commended the ambition and vision of OCP.

“Cork’s growth is between 50 and 60% over the next 20 years,” she said. “That’s a lot of boots to fill and a lot of jobs and a lot of houses are needed, and this is the kickstarting of it, and I congratulate O’Callaghan Properties on their vision.”

The redevelopment of the South Docks, in conjunction with the city council’s plans for the new Marina Park which, when completed, will be six times larger than Fitzgerald’s Park, will be “transformative” for Cork, Ms Forde said.

“It’s going to be a showcase for Cork and one that will bring life into the city.

“It will be transformative, and this is only the start of it. We want more for Cork.

Artist impression of Cork South Docks proposal.
Artist impression of Cork South Docks proposal.

“When I go out to talk to anyone in Dublin, I say Cork is the second city, we want it to be the absolute best it can be and we want to drive forward because the more success we have in the [city] centre, that will permeate out and it will provide good jobs, [and] revenue for the city to do more for the public spaces.”

In her maiden speech as Lord Mayor after she was officially elected on June 24, the Douglas-based Fine Gael councillor said ensuring the city centre revitalisation plan “takes centre stage” is a key priority.

“The city centre is the beating heart of Cork, and the beating heart of Cork belongs to the people… I really, truly believe that.

“I want Cork city centre to be a joy to come into, a pleasure to access, to walk around, to cycle, to socialise and to allow the businesses to prosper from the very small to the larger,” Ms Forde said.

The recent publication of the city council’s arts and culture strategy — the first such statement of purpose for the development of the arts in the city in 10 years — is another important element in working to create a more vibrant and enjoyable city, Ms Forde said.

“I believe art and culture lift the city and we have so much talent in Cork,” she said, adding that she looks forward to the realisation of the goals in the plan.

 The Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Deirdre Forde at the City Hall, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
The Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Deirdre Forde at the City Hall, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

Speaking about security in the city, the Lord Mayor said she would like to see a “short, medium, and long term vision for how we want to tackle any issues that come in the city”, developed in conjunction with the gardaí, Cork City Council, the Department of Justice, the HSE and other agencies.

“A safe city is a welcoming city, not alone for Cork people but for visitors alike. We want to preserve that reputation. I think the gardaí do a phenomenal job; I take my hat off to them. They’re doing wonderfully, but there are issues that we need to be addressing. I believe that the [Garda] Commissioner is coming to Cork. It possibly could be September.

Welcome

“We will be welcoming him with open arms. I would like to have a more serious conversation with a broader spectrum of agencies to see what we could do to tackle any drug-taking or any issues that are affecting the public domain.

“We can’t just sweep it under the carpet, we have to tackle it in a very humane way.”

Ms Forde said she believes there is a need for more gardaí in Cork and that she would be raising this with Oireachtas members.

Furthering female participation in politics through Cork City Council’s Women’s Caucus is another key focus for the Lord Mayor.

First elected to Cork County Council in 1999, and to the city council in 2019 following the boundary extension, Ms Forde said while she personally has not found it difficult being a woman in politics, others may not feel the same, and that the Women’s Caucus is important in that regard to explore barriers and challenges to political participation.

“I have never felt myself to be any different, I just consider myself a politician.

“I’m lucky myself that I was reared by an independent woman, and I think that has stood to me.

“I don’t make any distinction, but I’m also aware that some women would find it difficult and that’s where the Women’s Caucus comes in, in terms of assisting and tackling issues.

“It’s very important, as the Women’s Caucus has highlighted, that we have diversity and inclusivity,” she said.

On the evening of her election, Ms Forde also pledged to be a “listening Lord Mayor”.

Several weeks into her term, she stressed that her ears, and her door, are very much open.

“Every brick, every light, every bit of carpet, every part of this building belongs to the people of Cork, and I want them to contact me.

“I particularly want the entrepreneurs to come in if they have ideas,” she said.

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