Cork boundary review welcomed but opinions differ on best solution

Coucillors put forward arguments for both unitary authority and expanded city council

 Patrick Street:  there will be plenty of debate about the  review of the Cork city boundary. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Patrick Street: there will be plenty of debate about the review of the Cork city boundary. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

 

The decision by Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly to order a review of the Cork city boundary has been greeted with widespread agreement that change is necessary to assist development. But the nature of that change is likely to prompt much debate.

Cork County Mayor Alan Coleman (Fianna Fáil) believes the best solution is one authority with a divisional structure. This would include a separate division to deal with the needs of metropolitan Cork, rather than an expanded city council and a reduced county council.

Negative impact

“First, it would have a very serious impact on the county council’s revenue as its southern division includes the industrialised areas around the city like Ringaskiddy and Little Island, which provide vital commercial rate income to help subsidise the more rural northern and western divisions.

“But second, it would change the nature of the county council – at the moment it has an urban dimension which enables us to work closely and co-operate with the city council in providing operational service and that has worked well over the years.

“But that sort of change – where you expand the city boundary – would result in a highly industrialised urban area under Cork City Council, and Cork County Council would become a very rural provincial town type of authority with little opportunity, or perhaps desire, for co-operation.”

However former lord mayor of Cork Cllr John Buttimer (FG) says given the size of the county, there will always be a need for a metropolitan Cork authority even within a unitary body, so he asks why not retain two authorities including an expanded city area.

“From a city council point of view, although the terms of reference do refer to both a single authority and a dual authority, even if you have a single authority, you will still need a municipal body for the greater Cork city area so even in creating a single authority, you will have a duopoly.”