Cork City Council avoids abolition by voting for budget

Councillors vote by 17 to 12 to pass budget which sees funding for Cork down by €13m

Cllr Sean Martin outside Cork City Hall. Photograph: Daragh Mac Sweeney/Provision

Cllr Sean Martin outside Cork City Hall. Photograph: Daragh Mac Sweeney/Provision

 

Cork City Council has avoided abolition by passing a budget at the second time of asking. Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael steered through proposals despite opposition from Sinn Féin, members of the Anti-Austerity Alliance.

Councillors voted by 17 to 12 with one abstention to pass the budget which sees funding for Cork City down from €165 million in 2014 to €152 million in 2015 with both parties stressing the need to avoid abolition of the council and handing control of the city to a commissioner.

Lord Mayor Cllr Mary Shields of Fianna Fáil appealed to councillors to abandon “petty partisan politics” for the good of the city while Fine Gael leader on the council, Cllr John Buttimer, said it was important the council took “a step back from the brink” of abolition.

Cllr Buttimer said the draft budget presented to the council was the result of a long consultation period and should not have come as a surprise to anyone but failure to pass a budget just wouldn’t affect the 31 councillors it would affect the 131,000 who live in the city.

Fianna Fáil leader Cllr Seán Martin said he wasn’t happy with the budget as it marked a reduction of funding but the council has already handed over so many powers to authorities in Dublin and failure to pass the budget would simply put a commissioner in control of Cork.

However Sinn Féin leader Cllr Chris O’Leary said his party could not support a budget that did not address the issue of homelessness in the city where the number of people sleeping rough has increased from 38 in 2011 to 230 this year.

And Cllr O’Leary spoke of 12 families he knew were living in camper vans because of the number of people on the city council waiting list.

Cllr Mick Barry of the Socialist Party and Anti-Austerity Alliance said in reality this was a seventh successive austerity budget inflicted on the people of Cork.

“And if people want to get a glimpse of what the next coalition government could look like – just look at what Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are supporting here tonight,” said Cllr Barry, saying some council staff were paid €1 an hour for “mickey mouse jobs” on Gateway project.

Cllr Ted Tynan of the Workers Party also opposed the budget. Independents Cllr Kieran McCarthy and Cllr Paudie Dineen supported the budget while fellow Independent Cllr Mick Finn abstained.