Former Cork Business Association head backs city and county councils merger plan

Workers Party say merger plan would be a disaster for both Cork city and county

Last week the CBA, which represents around 250 small and medium-sized businesses in Cork city, came out strongly against the recommendation made by three of the five members of the group under the chairmanship of former Beamish & Crawford MD, Alf Smiddy (above).

Last week the CBA, which represents around 250 small and medium-sized businesses in Cork city, came out strongly against the recommendation made by three of the five members of the group under the chairmanship of former Beamish & Crawford MD, Alf Smiddy (above).

 

A former president of the Cork Business Association (CBA) has come out against the association’s opposition to the proposed merger of Cork City Council and Cork County Council into a single authority to run the city.

Businessman Ernest Cantillon, who has number of pubs and restaurants in Cork, said he supported fully the recommendation by the Cork Local Government Review Group that Cork city and county councils be merged into one authority.

Last week the CBA, which represents around 250 small and medium-sized businesses in Cork city, came out strongly against the recommendation made by three of the five members of the group under the chairmanship of former Beamish & Crawford MD, Alf Smiddy.

The CBA chief executive Laurence Owens said that the report confirmed the CBA’s “worst fears” and said it would lead to the dismantling of Cork as the country’s second city through the emasculation of its necessary powers.

But last night, Mr Cantillon, who was the immediate past president of the CBA, said he disagreed with the organisation’s position on the proposed merger as did many other members of the association and he shared the belief of Cork Chamber that it would be a good move for Cork.

“I am 100 per cent in support of the announcement this week to combine Cork city and county councils, and I fundamentally disagree with the views expressed by the CBA publicly as do many business owners in the city,” said Mr Cantillon.

“While I have a very close personal relationship with both the current CEO and President of the CBA, I think it is important people know that they are not accurately representing the voices and concerns of their members, in my opinion.”

Mr Cantillon, who employs 160 people in his Cork businesses as well as in a pub and restaurant in Dublin, said he believed a merged unitary authority would eliminate duplication and create the opportunity for devolved services from local government.

“I’m very involved in business starts-ups but find it deeply frustrating to have to go to both Councils Local Enterprise Offices when I look at where to establish the business. It’s the very same in planning and housing, with huge anomalies between each council which is deeply frustrating for citizens.

“Most importantly to me, in terms of tourism the city and county is totally fragmented and there are so many vested interests and bureaucracy between the councils that we all just give up - the wasted potential is heartbreaking.

“I fully agree with the position of Cork Chamber on this critical matter for Cork. This is a new beginning for Cork and the findings and recommendations in this report should be put in place immediately. I will give full support to the implementation / steering team in every way possible.”

However the Workers Party in Cork city have come out strongly against the proposal with the party’s sole member on Cork City Council, Cllr Ted Tynan describing the move as “a diasaster” for the city while saying it could prove equally detrimental for the county.

Cllr Tynan said the proposed merger amounted to nothing less than the extinguishment of Cork’s 1,000 year old existence as a city and he believed the government had predetermined the agenda and the review group which made the proposal was acting to that agenda.

“The fact that two of the five members dissented from the agenda shows how preposterous this proposal is,” said Cllr Tynan in reference to a minority report by committee members, Prof Dermot Keogh and Dr Theresa Reidy who argued for the retention of two separate local authorities.

“The proposal is purely based on saving money, not on common sense or the efficient delivery of local government services. The proposal will merely make local administration more remote and inaccessible to citizens”, said Cllr. Tynan.

He said the proposal was not a merger but a takeover of Cork City by the larger County Council. It would result in a dilution of democratic accountability and unworkable local electoral areas. “In short, this plan would be a disaster for the city and a disaster for the county