Veteran Fine Gael Cllr Derry Canty, who has for 26-years represented Ballincollig — the largest Cork county town earmarked for transfer to the city under the contentious Mackinnon report — said Leo Varadkar, and Cork-based Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney and Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, must listen to the concerns of party activists and elected members about the contentious Cork boundary issue.
“This is being rammed down our throats and the message seems to be the Mackinnon report is gospel,” Mr Canty said.
“I’ve been a FG councillor for 26 years and it is very hurtful the way this entire thing has been handled.
“This isn’t bitterness on my part. But it is demoralising and upsetting the way these proposals are coming down the track.
“The Taoiseach and Simon Coveney said during the party leadership campaign they were going to put councillors and party members first.
“Let them do that now, by listening to the concerns of people in Ballincollig and Carrigtwohill, and other places that will be affected by Mackinnon.”
His warning comes ahead of a crucial meeting next week of the group established by Government to implement the Mackinnon recommendations.
After over two years of reports, controversy and reviews, the Mackinnon group recommended during the summer the retention of Cork’s two local authorities and the first extension of the city boundary since 1965.
It recommended that areas including Ballincollig, Blarney, Cork Airport, Glanmire and Carrigtwohill become part of the city.
The report has been accepted by Local Government Minister Eoghan Murphy who has established an oversight group to implement the recommendations.
An offer from the county council to cede certain lands on the city fringes has been rejected by the city council because the offer runs contrary to the Mackinnon recommendations.
Officials from both the city and county councils are now finalising the first draft of their boundary proposals for presentation to the implementation group, chaired by former Bord Pleanála chief, John O’Connor, on September 5.
If officials can’t agree on a boundary, the oversight group has been told it has the power to prepare its own boundary line and make that recommendation to the minister.
The minister has said he will not be commenting publicly on the issue until he receives a report from the implementation group at the end of October.
Mr Canty said as next week’s meeting draws closer, the reality of the proposed city boundary extension, and its potential impact on places like Ballincollig, are beginning to dawn on people.
He is involved in a Keep Ballincollig County campaign which has collected some 600 signatures in the town opposing the Mackinnon report and attempts to transfer administrative responsibility for Ballincollig from the county to the city.
He said people have concerns about the loss of the town’s sense of community and identity, about implications for the town’s commercial rates, about pay-parking arrangements, and about funding streams for groups like the Tidy Towns.
He also said some €270,000 of funding earmarked by the county council for investment in the town’s Regional Park, which has benefitted from some €1m investment in recent years, is being withheld pending clarification on the boundary issue.
The Keep Ballincollig County campaign has ramped up in recent days with a poster campaign in the town centre, and a door-to-door campaign across the town’s vast housing estates.
“It’s only now that the implications of this are beginning to sink in. The clock is ticking and this campaign is only gathering momentum.”