Alan Kelly backs report on Cork councils merger
Minister says debate on merger should be governed by evidence
Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly
Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly has rejected claims
the planned merger of Cork city and county councils is fundamentally anti-democratic.
Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Chris O’Leary wrote an open letter to the people of the city in which he has accused Mr Kelly of “political vandalism”.
Speaking in Dublin yesterday, Mr Kelly said that he believed the recommendation by the Cork Local Government Review Committee under the chairmanship of businessman Alf Smiddy that the two councils should be merged into a single unitary authority was the best option for Cork.
“I accept the report’s findings and I look forward to bringing it to government,” said Mr Kelly. He rejected any suggestions the report’s recommendations were predetermined and stressed the independence of the committee.
“This is a very open and transparent process – it began last December and January and the chairman went about his task in a very diligent way and I had no communications with him whatsoever or any members of the committee until they actually landed the report with me.”
Mr Kelly said the debate about the committee’s report should be governed by “evidence rather than emotion”. He rejected claims by Mr O’Leary that department officials were bombarding staff at Cork City Hall with phone calls in an attempt to bully them into accepting the report.
Mr Kelly said: “I want what’s best for Cork . . . It’s a solution we require which will be the best for Cork – but I will not put forward anything that would isolate anyone from an urban point of view in the city or indeed from a rural town.”
The Minister was speaking after Cork City Council voted by 29 - 0 under section 140 of the Local Government Act 2001 to direct Cork City chief executive Ann Doherty to initiate legal action against the Government over the move.
The motion directed Ms Doherty to seek a judicial review concerning the processes engaged by the Cork committee including, among other things, the committee’s adherence to the principles of natural constitutional justice.
The second part of the motion directed Ms Doherty to challenge the Government’s policy in relation to combining local authority areas.