Tuesday 27 September 2016

Councillors vote to challenge €440m merger plan

Published 22/09/2015 | 02:30

Cork city councillors last night voted unanimously to launch a High Court challenge to the proposal to merge Cork City Council and County Council
Cork city councillors last night voted unanimously to launch a High Court challenge to the proposal to merge Cork City Council and County Council

Cork city councillors last night voted unanimously to launch a High Court challenge to the proposal to merge Cork City Council and County Council.

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Lord Mayor Cllr Chris O'Leary described the decision to seek a judicial review of the plan for a €440m 'super council' as "a momentous day ".

Councillors also voted unanimously to challenge the constitutionality of the Government's policy on local government areas and any bid to force two large authorities to merge.

All parties supported the challenge after agreeing the merger was tantamount to the abolition of the historic authority.

The vote came just hours before the Government is to discuss the proposed merger at Cabinet today.

Fine Gael and Labour TDs in Cork have warned that they have major reservations about the proposal and may not be able to support it in the Dáil.

The decision came despite an eleventh-hour plea from the Mayor of Cork County, Cllr John Paul O'Shea, for the full consequences of such a legal challenge to be carefully considered.

Cork City Council's chief executive, Ann Doherty, added her voice to the debate by warning she had to dispel "some of the ongoing myths which are being collectively put forward by those supporting the merger option".

"This is a false promise. Let us be under no illusions. What is proposed in the report is the abolition of Cork City Council as an independent decision-making authority and its reconstitution as a district within a division within the larger county."

The city boss added that there is "no empirical evidence whatsoever" the single giant council would deliver economic growth that a simple boundary extension for Cork city wouldn't similarly achieve.

"The suggestion that any concerns regarding the (study) process engaged in should be swept under the carpet is deeply worrying and, in my view, wholly undemocratic," she said.

Irish Independent

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