BY MARTIN WALSH
WEST Cork’s electoral boundaries are facing a major shake-up if County Council proposals are implemented.
As submissions to the Local Electoral Area Boundary Committee closed earlier this week, proposals have emerged to split the Skibbereen and Bantry electoral areas; bring Inchigeelagh into North Cork and take Timoleague, Courtmacsherry and South Ring from West Cork into the Bandon/Kinsale area.
It’s also proposed to bring Enniskeane into West Cork to join its neighbouring sister village of Ballineen, in what is perhaps the only suggestion not to prompt concern from elected members.
Initially, it was also proposed that Clonakilty was to be included in the Bandon/Kinsale area, but that was torpedoed. Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) said: ‘I’m extremely disappointed at how things have played out in terms of the submission that is being sent by Cork County Council. I was happy with the current West Cork Municipal District that included Barryroe, Courtmacsherry and Timoleague, which I have always felt are strongly rooted in West Cork, as is Clonakilty, my own hometown. Because of the terms of reference of the boundary commission we were faced with the proposal where they would all go east with Bandon/Kinsale. I fought hard for the areas but at the end of day Council decided to put Clonakilty in with West Cork. I’m devastated as I am losing a large chunk of an area that I’ve represented for 10 years.’
Asked if Cork County Council could have done more, he added: ‘Yes, I think they could have challenged the terms of reference. The West Cork Municipal District could have been extended to ten, it would be strong and robust and this would have meant that Barryroe, Timoleague and Courtmacsherry could have been kept in.’
Meanwhile, Cllr. Mary Hegarty (FG) said: ‘We had a special meeting about it last Friday and we all spoke about the importance of our own areas. I’m not happy as I feel we don’t have enough representation, since Town Councils were taken out of the picture its just impossible to cover a rural area as vast as West Cork.
Cllr Hegarty agreed that the vast majority of people are unaware of the current situation.
Meanwhile, former mayor, Cllr. Seamus McGrath is hopeful that his local town Carrigaline will no longer be straddled between two municipal districts and should also include Crosshaven, Myrtleville and Fountainstown. He said: ‘I think there is a lack of engagement with the public on this issue, that is unfortunate as afterwards you see the consequences. Official Ireland, whether it’s government or County Council could have done a better job in trying to get communities engaged.”
In the last few days the number of submissions made to the LEABC increased by almost fifty per cent, however, the body of opinion is that few people were actually aware of the process. The LEABC is to report to John Paul Phelan T.D., Minister of State for Local Government and Electoral Reform not later than June 13th.