Mayor urges withdrawal of poll showing few back council merger

Cork Labour TD Ciaran Lynch says proposal to merge councils is wrong option for Cork

The Mayor of Cork County has called on  Ciaran Lynch TD (pictured above) to withdraw the findings of a poll which found  one in five people support merging Cork City and County Councils. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The Mayor of Cork County has called on Ciaran Lynch TD (pictured above) to withdraw the findings of a poll which found one in five people support merging Cork City and County Councils. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

The Mayor of Cork County has called on Cork South Central TD Ciaran Lynch to withdraw the findings of a poll he conducted which found just one in five people support the idea of merging Cork City and County Councils.

Cork County Mayor, Cllr John Paul O’Shea, accused Mr Lynch of releasing “a biased survey” in an attempt to prevent an implementation group from beginning its work to progress the recommended merger of the councils.

Last week, the Cork Local Government Review Group, appointed by Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly and chaired by former Beamish & Crawford managing director Alf Smiddy, issued a majority report recommending the merger of the two councils into a single unitary authority.

But earlier this week, Mr Lynch distanced himself from the stance taken by his Labour Party colleague Mr Kelly, who had welcomed the majority report when he published the results of a poll of some 224 households in Cork South Central which he had commissioned.

Boundary extension

Mr Lynch revealed the poll found some 59 per cent of respondents supported the idea of a boundary extension to create a greater city council area, while just 21.3 per cent of respondents favoured a city and county council merger.

The poll also found 94.3 per cent of householders said they aware of the proposed merger and were conscious of the implications it could have for them.

Some 71.3 per cent indicated they consider themselves to be city residents, even if they live in a county council area.

“There was a clear gap in the work that was being done by the committee. I believe that the level of public consultation could have been better. My own decision was to engage with people living in my own constituency, specifically those living in the hinterland of Cork city,” he said.

“This (the Local Government Review Group Report) is not just an improper recommendation - it is the wrong recommendation,” said Mr Lynch, adding that progressing the majority recommendation would not meet the specific needs of the distinct and different areas of Cork city and county.

“My argument has always been that extending the boundary is the best decision for the people living in both local authorities. The development of what we call Metropolitan Cork, working side by side with Cork County, is the most effective response to the challenges the region currently faces.”

However, Mr O’Shea said he was amazed that Mr Lynch used a survey on boundaries, which was already covered in the Cork Local Government Boundary Group’s review, to hinder the implementation group coming together to establish “One Cork”.

Key role

“The recommendations of the Cork Local Government Review Group recognise the importance of Cork city’s autonomy to ensure its continued effective management and its key role as a driver of economic development for Cork,” he said.

“When it comes to tourism, job creation and services, there are no boundaries in Cork. As parliamentarians, all of us, including Deputy Lynch, are obliged to come together to see how best we can improve the services in the best interests of those we serve - the people of Cork,” he said.

He said Cork now had the opportunity to bring what’s best in the councils together, so the people and businesses have an efficient and effective local authority that maximises Cork’s opportunity to attract foreign direct investment, tourism, create jobs and improve citizens’ quality of life.