Councillors told to stop arguing about Cork getting seven times bigger

Coveney says expanding city boundary into county will be good for region

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has urged Cork councillors to trust the experts tasked with overseeing the implementation of a city boundary extension.

A review chaired by former chief planner for Scotland Jim Mackinnon recommended a boundary extension for the city into the county.

The Mackinnon Implementation Oversight Group will finalise the actual line of the boundary, which will see Cork city undergo a seven-fold increase in size.

It has proven highly divisive in Cork with county councillors strongly opposed to the proposal.

However, Mr Coveney said the group should now be allowed reach a final determination and he wanted a recommendation to come to Cabinet as soon as possible.

“This is a decision that the Government ultimately has to make and so we need to get on and do that. We can’t go through another long consultation process that goes on for another six months,” he said.

“As the Minister responsible for introducing the Mackinnon report, I think we need to trust the experts to get the boundary issue right,” he told Cork’s 96FM on Wednesday.

“ They are obviously listening to people and trying to finalise a recommendation for government so we can make a decision and move on.”

Mr Coveney said division and disagreement was not helpful to Cork as a region.

“What we’ve seen over the last few weeks is not good for Cork where councillors are arguing with each other trying to make different cases.

“What we are trying to do is modernise local governance in Cork city and county so the Cork region as a whole can prepare for investment, expansion, growth.

“We are planning for over 800,000 people in Cork. It’s just over 500,000 at the moment.

“Whatever changes are made, the county is still going to be a lot bigger than the city in population terms but we are trying to ensure that we have a city that is planning for the future that has the space to expand.”

Mr Coveney said the Government would soon be launching a new National Planning Framework which would be advocating a 50 per cent increase in Cork’s population on top of whatever boundary is agreed.

“Of course there are genuine concerns in the county but what we are trying to do here is make a fair change to structures in both city and county that allows them to function independently of each other but also puts a new structure in place that works for the metropolitan area.”

He said there was going to be a lot of change, “and I think it’s all good change”.

He added: “Many councillors are open to it, some feel somewhat threatened by it and we need to listen to those concerns and I think the Implementation Group is doing that but I think within the next few weeks, we will get a recommendation coming to cabinet so we can make a decision and move on.”