Tuesday 25 October 2016

'Super council' merger for Cork urged in report

Published 08/09/2015 | 02:30

Cork County Hall: authorities in Cork could be set to merge
Cork County Hall: authorities in Cork could be set to merge

The biggest merger of local authorities to create a €440m new "super council" will be recommended today in a study on local government reform.

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The proposal for Cork City and County Councils follows a lengthy review conducted by a team led by former Beamish & Crawford brewery boss, Alf Smiddy.

Its full recommendations will be outlined at a special press conference in Cork today.

However, the Irish Independent has learned that the review backs the creation of a unified local authority for Cork as an engine to drive both the economy and population growth.

If enacted by Environment Minister Alan Kelly, it will involve the largest merger of councils in Irish local government history.

The study has already caused divisions in Cork - with some, including politicians, planners and developers, arguing that both Cork City and County Councils should retain their independence.

Eighteen former Lord Mayors of Cork have slated as "unworkable" the proposal to create a super-council through the merger of the two Cork authorities.

In an open letter last month, signed by the 18 Lord Mayors drawn from Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour, the former first citizens warned that the merger of Cork City and County Councils represents "an extraordinary proposition".

Developers including Owen O'Callaghan have also voiced concerns about the effectiveness of any such merger.

Cork County Council ranks as the second biggest authority in Ireland in terms of revenues, after Dublin City Council.

The merger would create the most powerful council in Ireland.

Some claimed it represents the best means of helping Cork develop as a counterweight to Dublin and the eastern seaboard.

Former Cork County Mayor, Councillor Alan Coleman, said the benefits of a merged authority are clear.

"In this digital age when face-time with decision makers is limited, Cork's message must be clear, concise and delivered with one voice," he said.

"More than half a million people in Ireland's second city region drawing on our varied strengths and speaking with one voice presents a strong case for a unified single local authority for Cork city and county."

Irish Independent

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