Calls for independent review of merger plan

Áine Collins said dissenting views on the plans to merge Cork's cityand county councils should not be disregarded.

A TD has called on Environment Minister Alan Kelly to commission an independent expert review of the Cork council merger proposal.

Áine Collins of Fine Gael said she is concerned that the ongoing public debate and disagreements about the Cork Local Government Review (CLGR) group’s proposal, published just over two weeks ago, could be very damaging to the region.

She said many of the opposing opinions and concerns that are being aired in public are coming from experienced business people and bodies and should not be discounted.

She also said the city council’s unanimous vote on Monday to mount a constitutional challenge against the CLGR’s city and county council merger plan is a strong expression of discontent and further proof that people have not being involved in the process in a meaningful way.

“A solution must be found quickly and I am suggesting that before there is any ratification of the recommendations of the committee, they should be thoroughly assessed by an expert group, who have the relevant experience and expertise,” said Ms Collins.

“As the economy recovers it is in all our interests that the Cork region works together to communicate a united voice locally, nation-ally, and internationally.

“It’s vital that Cork looks and operates as a cohesive unit that is attractive for people to do business with and, as the infighting is being covered by most media outlets, it has me genuinely concerned about our region and moving forward positively.

“What I’m witnessing is lots of people giving their opinions and having public disagreements and I believe this could be very damaging for Cork.”

[timgcap=Alf Smiddy and Environment Minister Alan Kelly]AlfSmiddyAlanKelly_large.jpg/timgcap]

The independent assessment should take into account the concerns that have been raised and should ensure that no voice has been left unheard, and that a positive process is put in place to manage the implementation of any changes, said Ms Collins.

“Someone needs to take control of this before the situation deteriorates even further and sets Cork back,” she said

The CLGR proposal, supported by three of its five members, has split the city.

Meanwhile, the Lord Mayor is expected to write to the European Commission today calling for its support against local authority mergers.

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