Review chairman to consult widely on Cork boundary changes

New model for local government could see a much larger metropolitan area being created

The chairman of a specially appointed independent review group to examine local government structures in Cork has pledged to consult widely with all stakeholders with a view to obtaining the best outcome for all residents of the city and county for the next 25 to 50 years.

Alf Smiddy was appointed last month by Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly to chair an independent review group to examine the Cork city boundary with a view to extending it to encompass a larger metropolitan area.

A former managing director of Beamish & Crawford, Mr Smiddy said he and the review group would approach the task with “an open mind”, but were conscious that the recommendations that they would make should take as wide and as long-term a view as possible.

"We plan to talk to all stakeholders and interested parties – not just the members and management of Cork City Council and Cork County Council but also organisations like the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, Cork Chamber and the Cork Business Association, as well as UCC and CIT," he said.


“And we will come forward with a recommendation for what we feel is the best local government model to serve the people of the region – we will be mindful of what’s right for Cork, not just for the next five years but for the next 25 to 50 years.”

Economic progress

In announcing the review, Mr


said it was important that both Cork city and county were not held back in terms of economic progress and resolving the boundary issue permanently had an important role to play in ensuring coherent development.

“This is about selecting the most appropriate system of local government for Cork city and county and ensuring proper democratic representation. Issues such as commercial rates, planning and unnecessary duplication of administration are holding Cork back and need to be addressed.”

The review group, chaired by Mr Smiddy, also includes emeritus professor of history at UCC Dermot Keogh; senior counsel John Lucey; UCC lecturer in politics Dr Theresa Reidy; and former Kerry county manager Tom Curran. It is due to report back to the Minister within nine months.


Although Mr Smiddy has stressed that the group is keeping an open mind, most observers believe the options are either a significant extension of the Cork City Council boundary or the amalgamation of city and county councils into one authority, as has happened in





According to the 2011 census, Cork city has a population of 119,230 and Cork county one of 399,802, but Mr Kelly said that some 79,000 of these lived in areas adjacent to the city boundary, such as Curraheen, Frankfield, Donnybrook, Doughcloyne and Rochestown.

Mr Smiddy said the review group would consult with Limerick and Waterford councils to see how they had fared with amalgamation and what savings they achieved.

The group will also draw on existing reports looking at the issue of creating a more efficient local government structure.

Among these is a 2006 report prepared for Cork City Council by then city manager Joe Gavin, who said the city's population had fallen from a high of 138,267 in 1979 to its then level of 119,143 and had a smaller area (3,961ha) under its control than either Galway or Waterford.

“Cork city is being disadvantaged by the lack of development land and population within its boundaries,” said Mr Gavin, adding that many communities such as Togher and Douglas were divided by the city boundary and an extension would reduce the need for duplication of services.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times