EDITORIAL: Views of county must be heeded

August 20th, 2017 11:40 PM

By Southern Star Team


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MEMBERS of Cork County Council have every right to feel aggrieved about the approach of the Implementation Oversight Group (IOG) to the extension of the city boundary into the county. The leaders of the various political groupings on the County Council last week expressed their serious concerns about the approach being taken to the oversight and implementation of the Mackinnon Report on future arrangements for local government in Cork city and county. 

This report, compiled by an expert group headed by Scotland's former chief planner Jim Mackinnon, proposed that quite a large chunk of county territory, including Ballincollig, Carrigrohane, Blarney, Glanmire, Little Island and Carrigtwohill, and the area around Cork Airport, would be incorporated into the city, to give it a total population of about 225,000. However, at its launch at the end of May, the chairman of the Cork Local Government IOG, John O'Connor, intimated that the boundary proposed was ‘not written in stone' and this was confirmed by the expert advisory group's chairman, Jim Mackinnon, at a Cork County Council meeting last month.

The Council is worried that the IOG has already decided that the boundary line is drawn and finalised as per the report and is planning to proceed on that basis. Members and officials are, rightly, seeking urgent clarification regarding the role and terms of reference of the IOG from Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy, who is a strong supporter of a major expansion of the city boundary and local politicians such as Simon Coveney and Micheál Martin would ideally like to have it finalised in time for the 2019 local government elections.

However, the plans need to be discussed properly with Cork County Council, which is the bigger of the two local authorities in Cork, and not steamrolled through without having proper regard for their views. Cork City Council this week rejected the County Council's offer to cede just the parts of the city suburbs in the county area, such as in Douglas, Grange, Frankfield, Bishopstown and Ballyvolane. Whatever happens needs to be agreed – not imposed – by the Minister and his IOG.

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