Friday 23 March 2018

Politicians demand Cork plebiscite on €440m 'super council' proposal

Alf Smiddy
Alf Smiddy
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

Cork City Council members are to demand a county-wide vote of all householders on the controversial proposal to create a €440m new "super council".

The proposed Cork plebiscite is expected to attract cross-party support within the city council, which has reacted with fury to plans to merge it with the larger county council.

Support for the proposed ballot has grown, with one poll indicating that only one-in-five people back the merger.

The city council had campaigned for 20 years for a boundary extension, given that the last expansion of the city boundary was in the 1960s.

City suburbs including parts of Douglas, Little Island, Glanmire and the upper harbour are still under Cork County Council control.

City council members believe the proposed merger is little more than a Cork County Council takeover with their authority, which traces it history to medieval times, being transformed into one of three municipal councils in Ireland's biggest county.

The merger has proved so controversial that even business groups such as Cork Chamber of Commerce and Cork Business Association have differed over the best option.

The plebiscite move comes in advance of a special city council meeting that will take place on Monday night.

At that meeting members of the council will examine a potential High Court judicial challenge to the findings of the Local Government Review (LGR) study.

The judicial review is being sought under a Section 140 motion by which council executives are directed by councillors to adopt a specific course of action.

The LGR study, chaired by former Beamish and Crawford boss Alf Smiddy, recommended Cork's future interests would be best served through a merger of the city and county councils.

Its findings have already been endorsed by Environment Minister Alan Kelly. However, the Tipperary TD admitted there will be no immediate action on the plan.

Eighteen former Lord Mayors of Cork have opposed the merger.

One of them, councillor Terry Shannon, said it was vital that nothing be done about the proposed merger until the people of Cork were properly consulted.

"Where is the public consultation in all of this?" he asked.

"The people of Cork, in particular the people of Cork city, need to be consulted so that their views can be made known and their voice heard. I think there is a very strong case for a plebiscite."

Irish Independent

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