THERE was some surprise expressed last week when it was revealed to councillors that little Leitrim is getting the same amount of allocation in certain types of funding as the Western Division of Co Cork, despite having a third of the population.
At a recent Council meeting, North-Cork based Cllr Gerard Murphy (FG) called for Co Cork to be treated as three counties – South, West and North – when allocations are being made for programmes like the Clár and Town & Village Renewal schemes.
Councillors were told that the population size of Cork is larger than the six smallest counties combined – which include Longford and Leitrim.
‘There are 10 various grants that we are losing out on because we are not being treated as three counties,’ said Cllr Murphy.
‘It is obviously necessary that we are. If you look at Leitrim, for example, it gets exactly the same grants in these sectors as we do.’
Cllr Murphy said that the situation is ‘just not tolerable’ and called on the Council to look at all legislation to ensure Cork can be treated as three counties, because it is receiving the same allocation as the smallest counties.
Cllr John Paul O’Shea (FG) seconded the motion and called on the Council to press ahead with an expert report to be prepared to present to the ministers involved.
Cllr Gobnait Moynihan (FF) said the motion ‘hits the nail on the head’.
‘As things are at present it’s not working for the county of Cork and we’re missing out. We seem as a county to be missing out continually,’ said Cllr Moynihan.
‘If you take Clár, for example, or the playgrounds grants, there is only a certain amount allocated for the county and you have voluntary groups fighting against each other in Cork just to make it out of the county as there are only certain applications allowed out of the one county.’
Cllr Seamus McGrath (FF) said Cork is unfairly treated when it comes to the distribution of national funding in various streams.
‘The current, simplistic and juvenile way that funding is being distributed at national level is illogical and makes no sense,’ said Cllr McGrath.
Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) said this motion is ‘long overdue’ and said they should approach Minister Ring as he has rural Ireland at his heart.
‘Cork County Council lost out on millions of euro from being treated the same by consecutive governments down through the years and I would suggest we should make a deputation to the Minister,’ said Cllr Murphy.
County mayor Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) said that Cork is losing out on various important funding that has an impact on rural communities, which is not fair.
‘I have no problem in leading a delegation to Minister Michael Ring to highlight and outline the anomalies, given the size of Cork county, and to be treated as one county isn’t good enough for us,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan.
Niall Healy, director of services for municipal district operations with the Council, said that they have expressed serious concerns in relation to the approach to allocations.
‘It is simply unfair and inequitable that a county the size of Cork – with a population of 332,000 and covering the largest geographic area, by far, of any local authority in the country – should be allocated similar levels of funding to that of smaller local authorities, who have a fraction of Cork county’s population,’ said Mr Healy.
Chief executive Tim Lucey said they should bring the motion back to the corporate policy group to get terms of reference and to get clarity on where is the best place to get this done.