Minister rejects Waterford's 'land grab' attempt from Kilkenny
Housing Minister Simon Coveney has rejected proposals to redraw the electoral boundaries between Kilkenny and Waterford amid accusations of a 'land grab'.
Having come under intense pressure from within his own party, Mr Coveney has confirmed he will not take on board the advice of the Boundary Commission to extend Waterford into Kilkenny.
On the grounds of population shifts, the Commission recommended that almost 20,000 acres of land currently in Kilkenny should be 'moved' into the Waterford constituency. This would have resulted in around 7,500 people's votes being transferred.
Carlow-Kilkenny TD John Paul Phelan had previously clashed with the minister over the proposal, even threatening to leave the party if the changes were implemented.
And of over 19,131 public submissions received by the Boundary Commission, 19,096 opposed changes.
The Committee said that the current border was an "impractical boundary".
But in a statement, Mr Coveney said the committee's reports are only "advisory".
"The recommendation in the Waterford/Kilkenny report to move the existing county boundaries has caused a lot of unease and concern in the area.
"This has been articulated directly to me by elected representatives and citizens through the consultation process on the National Planning Framework.
"The issue of identity, linked to county boundaries must be an important consideration," he said.
"I want to make clear now that I will not be implementing the recommendation to change the county boundaries. Kilkenny will continue to be Kilkenny and Waterford will be Waterford."
However, he added: "There is a responsibility on me now to ensure we have an appropriate management structure to allow Waterford City to grow into the South Kilkenny area."
Mr Phelan told the Irish Independent he welcomed the announcement but would reserve judgment until he sees full details of what is being planned.