How Cork's 'super council' has been dismissed - and the city is getting a border extension

Cork City Council to get its first boundary extension for half a century

Cork (Photo: Stock)

Ralph Riegel

A NEW report has rejected a €440 million ‘super council’ for Cork.

Housing Minister Simon Coveney revealed details today of the MacKinnon Report which was ordered after a bitter controversy over an earlier study by business consultant Alf Smiddy which recommended that Cork City and County Councils merge to create a 'super' authority.

That controversy reached a peak when Cork City Council threatened High Court action over the merger in 2015 - and several Lord Mayors of Cork slated it as an attack on local democracy and a disaster for Cork city.

Now, the 'super council' proposal is dismissed and, instead, Cork City Council will get its first boundary extension for half a century.

A 'dual authority' will continue into the future - though Cork City Council's area will increase, in population terms, by around 100,000.

Major areas including Little Island, Cork Airport, Ballincollig, Blarney and Carrigtwohill will be subsumed into the city council area.

A critical boost will be the addition to the city council area of the key industrial zones around Little Island and Cork Airport.

However, major areas like Cobh, Carrigaline and Midleton will remain within county council control.

Cork Co Council will also retain control of the major industrial hub of Ringaskiddy which boasts Ireland's greatest concentration of pharmaceutical industries.

Given the population shift from county council to city council areas, City Hall will see its number of councillors increase while the number of county councillors will reduce.

It is expected that the county council will be compensated for any rate losses it suffers as a result of the boundary changes.

Mr Coveney said the overriding priority had to be the economic development and expansion of Cork both for the county and region.

"It is vital that Cork city act as an engine to drive the economic growth of not just the city and county but the entire south west region," Mr Coveney said.

"Ireland needs Cork to act as a counterweight to Dublin and the eastern seaboard."

"We need to see Cork as major economic growth centre to balance Dublin."

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin signalled that his party will back the proposal.

"I have consistently been opposed to the merger of Cork City and County Councils," he said.

"The reality is that cities are the drivers for economic growth in regions. That is what we need to see now with Cork city."

"I believe this is a common sense approach to the issue."

"I think people also need to remember that the single most successful development plan in Irish council history, the Land Use and Transport Study (LUTS), was developed by both Cork City Council and Cork County Council."

However, some Cork Co Council members weren't impressed by the new report and its recommendations.

"It is a fudge, pure and simple," Councillor Frank O'Flynn said.

The previous Local Government Review (LGR) study, chaired by former Beamish & Crawford boss, Alf Smiddy, bitterly split Cork opinion.

Cork Chamber of Commerce and leading businessmen including Leslie Buckley, Michael O’Flynn and Ernest Cantillon backed the ‘super council’ concept as best for Cork’s future development.

However, others including Cork Business Association and developers Owen O’Callaghan and John Cleary have expressed major concerns.

Former Environment Minister Alan Kelly backed the council merger in 2015, pointing to the success of similar measures in Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford.

However, the recommendation was never enacted due to the 2016 General Election.