Cork City Council welcomes Mackinnon report findings

Mackinnon calls for extension of Cork city boundary, keeping city and county councils

Cork City Council chief executive Ann Doherty: ‘The precise boundary of any expanded city council area must be the result of due diligence and must be evidence-based’

Cork City Council chief executive Ann Doherty: ‘The precise boundary of any expanded city council area must be the result of due diligence and must be evidence-based’

 

Cork City Council chief executive Ann Doherty has expressed hope the Mackinnon report, which recommended the extension of Cork city, will be incorporated into the Draft National Planning Framework to be published later this summer.

In a report to the 31 members of Cork City Council, Ms Doherty welcomed the recommendation by the Mackinnon review group for the retention of separate city and county councils and an extension of the city boundary which will result in an increase in the city’s population of 100,000.

“The next vital step in the process is for the Mackinnon report to be considered by Cabinet and adopted as Government policy. In order for the report recommendations to be implemented by the 2019 local government elections, this needs to happen as soon as possible,” she said.

Ms Doherty pointed out that the implementation group has been asked to report to Government by September on whether this 2019 target date is feasible and she warned that failing to meet the target date will be harmful to bringing about the reforms recommended by the Mackinnon group.

The Mackinnon report recommends Cork city would expand to include Douglas, Donnybrook, Grange, Frankfield, Rochestown, Cork Airport, Ballincollig, Tower, Blarney, Glanmire, Little Island and Carrigtwohill but with the exclusion of Passage West, Monkstown, Carrrigaline and Ringaskiddy.

Financial implications

“The precise boundary of any expanded city council area must be the result of due diligence and must be evidence-based,” said Ms Doherty, adding the proposed expansion will have important financial implications for the city council.

And she said that neither the Mackinnon group nor the earlier Smiddy review group, which issued a majority report advocating a merger of both local authorities, were able to provide the level of detail on finances that Cork City Council had sought from the county council.

“The financial implications cannot be fully identified until this information is to hand. Ultimately, this is at the heart of the due diligence issue which will need to be addressed through the implementation process,” she said.

Cork County Council has already reacted negatively to the Mackinnon report, saying the proposed extension is “excessive” and will result in the city expanding to include areas that are clearly rural and result in an extremely strong city authority and a weakened county authority.

But in her report to city councillors, Ms Doherty said she was “very disappointed by the tenor of documents, press releases and public statements from Cork County Council” in relation to the report which was commissioned by then minister for local government Simon Coveney.

“They have levelled inaccuracies and accusations at Cork City Council that are unfounded. I raise them here to reassure the elected members that they have been noted and that I will raise them in the appropriate forums,” said Ms Doherty who didn’t say what the inaccuracies and accusations were.

Local government reform

Ms Doherty said that the issue of local government reform in Cork had been the subject of four reports in the past 2½ years with three of these, the minority Smiddy report, a report commissioned by UCC and the Mackinnon report all advocating an expansion of the city.

And she pointed out that Mackinnon had found no example internationally of a local government system capable of sustaining a declining rural context alongside managing a growing urban centre, and had concluded two local authorities were required to manage both situations in the case of Cork.

“The integration of new communities into the expanded city will also be a crucial task and is really the major reason for a boundary extension,” said Ms Doherty, adding she was confident Cork City Council could deliver a strong and vibrant regional city as a counterbalance to Dublin.

“The repeated failure to extend the city boundary in Cork over the past three decades has had profound consequences for economic development, housing and quality of life in the region. Failure to demonstrate the vision and capability to implement Mackinnon is not an option.”