University boss Michael Murphy says UCC considering council merger stance

The President of University College Cork (UCC) has defended the right of academics to speak out against the Cork super-council plan.

But Dr Michael Murphy said the university itself will take time to consider its position on the Cork Local Government Review (CLGR) group’s city and county council merger proposal.

CIT president Brendan Murphy has already backed the super-council plan.

Dr Murphy said: “Universities don’t react to matters of this nature impulsively. Our responsibility in life is to take stock of an evidence base and evaluate, and also of the manner in which others are interpreting the data. The process is underway but there is no urgency about this.”

He was speaking after a symposium on the changing nature of local government in Ireland held at UCC on Wednesday.

CLGR members UCC academics Dr Theresa Reidy and Prof Dermot Keogh disagreed with the merger recommendation and published a minority report advocating a city boundary extension.

Dr Murphy said the university is considering the full CLGR report.

“It’s a very complex matter, with a lot of evidence, so we are going to take time to digest it and arrive at conclusions,” he said.

“The matter at issue has been a concern for some 50 years. I have met nobody who would hold the view that the status quo is in the best interests of the region. At least that is agreed. But the matter of which of the two options, is one that doesn’t need to be determined in 48 hours, or even 48 days.”

University boss Michael Murphy says UCC considering council merger stance

He expressed delight that two UCC academics were involved in the CLGR process, and he defended other UCC academics, including local government expert, Aodh Quinlivan, of UCC’s Department of Government, and planning experts William Brady, Jonathan Hall and Brendan O’Sullivan, of UCC’s Centre for Planning Education and Research, who have publicly criticised the merger proposal.

“I’m delighted that members of the staff with expertise have stepped up to the plate and shared their views. That’s the role of academics in a university in any region or society,” he said.

Meanwhile, county mayor Cllr John Paul O’Shea called on Labour TD Ciaran Lynch yesterday to withdraw the findings of his “biased survey” which showed overwhelming support for a boundary extension in fringe areas of the city.

Mr Lynch said party colleague, Environment Minister Alan Kelly, rushed to accept the CLGR recommendations, and he called on him to review the entire process.

But Mr O’Shea said it was not acceptable that Mr Lynch release the findings of a “biased survey to attack and attempt to stop the proposed implementation group starting its work”.

He called on all public representatives to be responsible and allow the implementation group to get on with their work.

He has accepted an invitation from former CLGR chairman, Alf Smiddy, to attend talks with Lord Mayor, Chris O’Leary, in a bid to diffuse the merger controversy.

It’s also emerged that Cork City Council will meet at one minute past midnight on Monday to consider its High Court challenge against the merger plan.

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