Councillors reject bilateral talks offer on city boundary

Cork’s city councillors have rejected an invitation from the county for their chief executives to engage in “bilateral meetings” on the contentious city boundary extension issue.

Councillors reject bilateral talks offer on city boundary

It follows a meeting of the city council’s corporate policy group, the various party leaders, and party whips on Monday night.

Their decision is likely to heighten tensions between the city and county over the ongoing standoff on the city boundary extension proposed by the Mackinnon review group.

The county council, which is opposed to the scale of the extension, has refused to engage with the definition of the extended boundary by the implementation oversight group which has been established to implement the Mackinnon recommendations which suggest the city boundary be expanded to include Ballincollig, Cork Airport, Blarney, Glanmire, Little Island, and Carrigtwohill.

The county appealed recently for the appointment of a mediator, and threatened Local Government Minister Eoghan Murphy with legal action if the boundary was altered in line with the Mackinnon report.

Mr Murphy responded to County Mayor Declan Hurley and said the oversight group is well positioned to perform any required mediation, and he urged both local authorities to work with the group with a view to reaching agreed boundary proposals “as a matter of urgency”.

He said the decision to alter the boundary rests ultimately with the Oireachtas, or by the enactment of primary legislation.

“However, I believe that the most important factor, in the first instance, in achieving effective and appropriate local government arrangements in Cork is the exercise of leadership and goodwill on the part of the elected members and the executives of both authorities working in the best interests of Cork and its communities,” said Mr Murphy.

On foot of that correspondence, Mr Lucey wrote to Ms Doherty on Friday outlining the county’s view that the best outcome for local government arrangements in Cork is for both councils to reach agreement on the boundary, and suggesting that the oversight group could perform a mediation role if required.

“However, if would be our wish that this would be a last resort position should agreement not be capable of being reached,” said Mr Lucey.

He suggested to Ms Doherty they would “immediately engage” in “bilateral discussions”, accompanied by senior executives, if she so wished, with a view to reaching agreement. He said such talks would not conflict with the county’s public consultation on its smaller boundary alteration proposal.

Ms Doherty brought the correspondence to the attention of her council’s corporate policy group and party leaders, who considered it in detail on Monday.

A source said there was a frank exchange of views and that a decision was taken to continue to work through the oversight group process.

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