Call for ‘engagement’ on Cork councils merger report

A local government expert has called for “open engagement” in a bid to build on common ground contained in the controversial Cork councils merger report.

Call for ‘engagement’ on Cork councils merger report

Dr Aodh Quinlivan, of UCC’s Department of Government, was speaking last night ahead of the launch today of the new Centre for Local and Regional Governance (CLRG) at UCC.

Dr Quinlivan said he hopes the research centre will help to open a constructive dialogue about regional and local government here and abroad, and provide a platform for politicians, practitioners, business interests, civic society, and academics, to collaborate on research.

A series of workshops and lectures featuring international local government experts will take place at UCC today ahead of the centre’s launch.

One will focus on the proposed reform of Cork’s local government structures which were the subject of a government-ordered review last year.

A five-person review group, chaired by business consultant Alf Smiddy, was split three-to-two in favour of recommending a merger of Cork city and county councils.

The final report contained a minority report from Prof Dermot Keogh and Dr Theresa Reidy arguing for a boundary extension.

The majority merger report triggered a legal challenge by the city council, which is ongoing.

“Despite the divergent positions represented by the two reports, and the subsequent uncertainty about implementation, there has in fact been significant progress,” Dr Quinlivan said.

“And there is an opportunity now to reflect on what has been achieved, and to consider what common ground can be exploited to further the discussion.”

Mr Smiddy said he declined an invitation to attend the launch because he must attend a board meeting in Dublin of the Dalata Hotel Group, of which he is a senior independent non-executive director.

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