Report calling for merger of councils due out today

A landmark report recommending the merger of Cork city and county councils will be published today.

The decision to plump for a single authority will come as a blow to Cork City Council who had argued for the retention of both local authorities and the first extension of the city boundary in 50 years.

However, it has been confirmed to the Irish Examiner that a unitary authority will be proposed.

The merger recommendation does not have the backing of all five members of the Cork Local Government Review Group, who compiled the report. While supported by chair Alf Smiddy, barrister John Lucey, and former Kerry county manager Tom Curran, it does not have the blessing of either Dr Theresa Reidy, lecturer in government at University College Cork, or Professor of History Dermot Keogh.

The reasons for their opposition will be outlined today in appendices to the report, which will be launched in Cork by Environment Minister Alan Kelly.

Last night Mr Smiddy, a business consultant, said he “hoped everyone will read the report thoroughly before coming out with positions”. He said he had always argued that whatever structure they came up with “the city would be the heart of the entire region”.

The group has been meeting since last January and received approximately 100 submissions. Two high-profile developers — Owen O’Callaghan and John Cleary — are opposed to a merger, with Mr O’Callaghan threatening to shift his business elsewhere. However, developer Michael O’Flynn backs the amalgamation.

The report launch takes place at 12.15pm at the Clayton Silver Springs Hotel, just outside Cork City.

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