A special statutory meeting of the County Council will take place on Friday December 15th to allow councillors discuss the contentious boundary extension of the city.
Councillors voiced their complete dissatisfaction with the proposed boundary extension at a meeting of the local authority on Monday. Issues such as the lack of information, prior consultation, the production of a legal advice document coupled with confusion about maps and an absent mayor and chief executive all contributed to a lively debate in the chamber.
The proposed boundary extension would see the County Council lose Blarney, Tower, Ballincollig, Cork Airport and Douglas to Cork city under a revised boundary plan.
Little Island and Glounthaune would remain within Cork County Council. The loss of these areas to the city would also see the county lose up to €19m in annual rates.
Cllr Seamus McGrath (FF) described it as a ‘dark day for Cork as a whole.’
‘After three years of discussion we arrived with a recommendation and we didn’t have the chance to debate it,’ said Cllr McGrath.
Cllr Kevin Murphy said there was no question that they were disappointed but said it was the best possible deal ‘after six hours of debate.’
‘The proposal is to accept it and we will be terrible idiots if we don’t accept it,’ said Cllr Murphy.
Cllr Des O’Grady (SF) said his party had always expressed their dissatisfaction with the boundary proposals and pointed out they were the only party who made a submission on it and they had also called for a plebiscite to be undertaken in the areas that will be affected.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said that if he accepts that Cloghroe is in Cork city then he can be called an idiot.
‘Why isn’t Passage West not part of the city extension? Obviously they don’t want it. It was just a simple grab,’ said Cllr Carroll.
His fellow colleague, Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan said what happened at the briefing last week was an ‘embarrassment.’
Cllr Bob Ryan (FF) called for a legal advice document which was prepared by senior counsel Michael McDowell to be produced in the chamber as did his colleague Cllr Daithí O Donnabhain.
‘We asked for the legal advice and we paid for it and my proposal is that I want to see it today. I also have concern with the absence of both the mayor and chief executive who both should be here today,’ said Cllr O’Donnabhain.
The director of corporate services, Niall Healy said that the Council would have to seek advice about whether they could release the legal document to councillors and Clodagh Henehan, acting for chief executive Tim Lucey said they would need a little bit of time in order to check on the status releasing the 80 page document.
Cllr Padraig O’Sullivan (FF) said what happened in the chamber last week ‘was nothing short of a disgrace.’
‘It was like amateur hour here last week and it was a farce. I want the council to get to grips with this in a productive way. We voted for legal opinion and we should be privy to this advice,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan.
Cllr Patrick Murphy (FF) also supported the call for the legal advice document to be produced in the chamber.
‘The people of Blarney, Ballincollig and Tower need to have their say and this gerrymandering is ridiculous. I believe we need to fight, fight and fight again,’ said Cllr Murphy.
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) called on councillors to put it to the government ‘one for all and all for one.’
Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) said she too was concerned about the democratic process involved and said she was very afraid ‘this will be the end game.’
‘The citizen voice is lost here and I’m calling for a public consultation. We are saying we are not pleased with this boundary extension,’ said Cllr Coughlan.
Cllr Joe Harris (Social Democrats) pointed out that there were hundreds of hidden implications with the extension of the city boundary including possible increases in car and house insurance.
Cllr Frank O’Flynn (FF) said it was ‘a dark day here for us in Cork County Council’ and pointed out that his city colleagues had a different map to the one he and his colleagues were shown
‘How did this arise and which map are we dealing with?’ asked Cllr O’Flynn.
Clodagh Henehan told councillors the map has yet to be finally agreed on and five areas still to be agreed include Hop Island (near Passage West), Monard, Cork Airport, Glanmire and Inniscarra.
County Council chief executive Tim Lucey and county mayor Declan Hurley were not in attendamce as they had travelled to Vietnam to collect Spike Island’s second-place prize in the World Travel Awards.
County Mayor, Cllr Declan Declan Hurley, noted that the Cork Implementation Oversight Group (IOG) report was approved by Cabinet on Tuesday and that the Council will give it due consideration and provide further comment.