Mixed reaction to proposed merger of Cork councils

Business leader says decision would dismantle Cork as Ireland’s second city

A review led by Alf Smiddy recommended merging Cork county and city councils. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

A review led by Alf Smiddy recommended merging Cork county and city councils. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Cork Business Association (CBA) has described the recommendations of the Cork local government review in relation to the proposed merger of the city and county council as the confirmation of their “worst fears”.

Lawrence Owens, chief executive of the CBA, said there is nothing in the report to suggest that it means anything other than the dismantling of Cork as the country’s second city through the emasculation of its necessary powers.

“What is in prospect if this recommendation is accepted by Government, is an incoherent fudge, more bureaucracy and less efficient delivery of services. From a national point of view, Ireland will no longer have a second city, as most people would reasonably understand the term, a city with its own powers and discretion to function properly. Ireland Inc will be the loser if this is proceeded with.”

Mr Owens said what Cork is being asked to do as a result of this recommendation is to accept a model of governance that Dublin has rejected, for good reason, because of it is unworkability.

Meanwhile, Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Chris O’Leary expressed his disappointment at the committee’s proposal to “relegate the country’s second city to the status of a district, within a division, within a new merged organisation”.

He claimed this is nothing short of a major missed opportunity for Ireland.

“It defies belief that as a nation we consistently fail to learn from the experience of other countries, and by not extending the city boundary, redressing current imbalances, and placing it at the heart of driving the region, that is exactly what this committee has done.”

He added the city council waits with anticipation to see how the Government will treat a report of a committee, which, under the chairmanship of Alf Smiddy, has failed to reach a consensus position.

He added that this is an unprecedented situation in the context of other recent mergers in Ireland.

Positive reaction

However, the report was met with a positive reaction by the President of Cork Institute of Technology, Dr Brendan Murphy, who insisted the recommendations will maximise the resources, capabilities, and advantages, of the greater Cork region.

“Cork city and county together have an impressive record of achievement driven by committed, talented, people in local government, enterprise, education and the community. This report presents a road map which will lead to enhanced cohesion and co-operation which will deliver greater success and achievement in the future.”

Property developer Michael O’Flynn was also among those who supported the recommendations stressing it was a “defining moment” for Cork.

“The merging of these two entities is the right decision for our city and county as it will bring a coherence to all aspects of Cork local government.

“I believe it will bring a co-ordinated structure to the provision of housing and office needs in Cork, which is essential not just for improving the quality of life for our citizens, but for attracting and retaining business which is absolutely essential to economic development and prosperity in the region.

“This is a great example of best international practice which will facilitate more efficient processes.”