City council to take legal advice on merger of Cork councils

Councillors back move to seek legal advice on taking constitutional challenge on merger

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly. Photograph: Eric Luke

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Cork City Council has decided to obtain legal advice on whether it can take an injunction to prevent Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly proceeding with the merger of it and Cork County Council into a single local authority.

Councillors agreed unanimously to ask council chief executive Ann Doherty to obtain legal advice on seeking a judicial review of the administration of the process whereby the Cork local government review group reached a recommendation for a merged unitary authority.

Members also proposed holding a meeting next week at which Ms Doherty would report back on legal advice about the possibility of taking a constitutional challenge against the merger. They also agreed to write to Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Mr Kelly asking them to halt the merger process.

Subsidiarity

Fianna Fáil whip Cllr Terry Shannon said the recommendation made by the review group ignored the principle of subsidiarity, which was a key aspect of European Union policy – that decision-making should be kept local and close to the people.

“What we have put in place over the last 1,500 years is not to be wiped out with a stroke of a pen . . . We have a report before us that wants to do what the Black and Tans couldn’t do. We are not going to allow them to diminish the office of MacCurtain and MacSwiney,” said Mr Shannon.

He said the council would not allow what happened to the town councils happen to Cork City Council. He said the process of amalgamation was not a success in Limerick or Waterford, contrary to what the review group report suggested.

“Our concern is that this is a predetermined decision – Cork Chamber came out with a very early statement in favour of a single unitary authority and then a very prominent member of the chamber was then appointed to chair the review,” said Mr Shannon.

Pulled trigger

Fine Gael leader on the council Cllr John Buttimer said he recently attended the annual Béal na Blá commemoration. “While we may not know who pulled the trigger on Michael Collins, we know who pulled the trigger on Cork city with this report,” he said.

 

The meeting, chaired by Lord Mayor Cllr Chris O’Leary, was attended by nine former lords mayor as well as members of the Cork Business Association, including developer Owen O’Callaghan, who has come out against a merger.

The Green Party candidate in Cork North Central in the forthcoming general election, Ollie Moran, said the review process lacked proper public consultation and he called for a plebiscite on the merger proposal.