‘I think the city council want their heads checked’

There are differing views between residents and businesses in Little Island about the performance of the county council, but not when it comes to Glounthaune.

‘I think the city council want their heads checked’

The overwhelming majority of people in the adjoining areas don’t want to be part of an expanded city.

Little Island Business Association (LIBA) is extremely opposed to its members falling under city council control, not least because they fear a rates hike.

Chief executive Michael Mulcahy believes the county council is doing its best to resolve problems with traffic that have gridlocked Little Island at peak times.

He said LIBA had signed up to the council’s new local area plans for zoning land for residential and industrial development and thanked the council for improving traffic signalling and some road restructuring within Little Island itself.

Ray O’Leary, business development manager at Tile Haven in Little Island’s Eastgate Business Park, said he and other businesses were “very happy with the services provided by the county council”.

“I think the city council want their heads checked,” he said when asked about the boundary extension.

“It’s a joke. If it’s not broken don’t try and fix it. It should be left the way it is” — in control of the county council.

Little Island Community Council chairman Ken Kelleher said he would like to meet with both the city and county councils to see what the potential handover might entail.

“We’re being kept completely in the dark,” he said.

Mr Kelleher claimed the county council was concentrating more on the industrial expansion of Little Island rather than addressing traffic issues which have dogged its near 2,000 residents.

“All we see here is a lot of businesses paying rates and that money is not being put back into Little Island,” said Mr Kelleher.

Mr Mulcahy said his members contribute more to rates than any other part of the county and, as such, their views about the Mackinnon report proposals need to be taken into account.

“We will resist such a move and revert to the courts if necessary as we will not allow the hard work of our organisation and the businesses and people of Little Island that has taken place over the past 25 years to be diminished,” said Mr Mulcahy.

The map presented by Cork City Council showing the exact detail of the enlarged city boundary.
The map presented by Cork City Council showing the exact detail of the enlarged city boundary.

Across the road in Glounthaune, villagers have a tightknit community spirit and don’t want to be subsumed by the city.

Members of Glounthaune Tidy Towns definitely say they don’t want a change of local authority.

Conor O’Brien, the organisation’s vice-chairman, said the county council had given it significant grant aid in recent years. Thanks to this, it had been able to build an outdoor gym and tackle a serious spread of invasive Japanese knotweed which had taken hold in several areas around the village.

His organisation has now eradicated the plant, which is capable of undermining buildings, and has flattened roadside verges where it once thrived, replacing it with wild flowers.

It has also benefited from council funding for other environment-enhancing projects in the area, including a children’s eco trail.

“We have received very significant funding from the county council over the years,” said Mr O’Brien. “We would be anxious to stay with the county council. I’d be worried that we wouldn’t get that kind of funding from the city council. We’d prefer to stay with the county council and remain a semi-rural village.”

Fianna Fáil county councillor Padraig O’Sullivan, who teaches in a local national school, said he has always felt the city requires a boundary extension.

“I was always reluctant in believing that amalgamation of the two authorities was the way forward and am glad that Cork County Council’s recent offer to Cork City Council, of essentially urban areas, was fair and responsible,” said Mr O’Sullivan.

“It is also largely in line with what most fair and open-minded people deem acceptable, in my opinion.”

Mr O’Sullivan said he is adamant that the area of Glounthaune, Little Island, and Brooklodge remain together.

“Both reports [Smiddy and Mackinnon] recognised the importance of social, historical, and cultural links in determining the eventual boundary wherever it may be drawn,” he said. “The integrity of Glounthaune parish needs to be maintained in these deliberations.”

He said large tracts of Glounthaune and Knockraha in particular are quintessentially rural and it is “unimaginable” that residents there could be redesignated to fall within a city boundary.

“The community in Little Island, for so long neglected and ignored by the county council, also wish to remain in the county bounds,” said Mr O’Sullivan.

“While Little Island is hugely industrialised and developed, the small community there is inherently rural in nature and there is no doubt that the city officials have their eyes on Little

Island for its lucrative rates and planning development contributions, which account for about 10% of the county council’s overall rates income.”

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