Some had gathered in County Hall as early as 2pm yesterday for the meeting which was supposed to start at 3.30pm. However, as the day wore on they were repeatedly told the start time was being pushed back, allegedly due to some last minute ‘horse-trading’ which was going on between representatives from both local authorities at a hotel.
Eventually, at 6.28pm they sat down to hear their officials outline progress so far.
This includes an apparent deal on the county council ceding Cork Airport, most of Ballincollig, Blarney, Tower and Glanmire to the city council, which would be less than the recommendations of the Mackinnon report, which also included the rates’ rich areas of Little Island and Carrigtwohill.
Those living in the affected areas were not the only ones who felt aggrieved by the so-called compromise. Even councillors from mid and west Cork were furious that Ballincollig and Blarney were being “sacrificed” to keep the rates “cash cows” of Little Island and Carrigtwohill falling into enemy hands.
Skibbereen-based councillor Joe Carroll said there were large rural swathes in both areas which had nothing in common with the city. He was worried that, from now on, all major development will occur within the extended city boundary, at the expense of the peripheries.
Michael Creed, who lives in Macroom, said his council would still lose a substantial amount of rates from Ballincollig, which are used to provide services in rural areas.
Councillor Ger Keohane said he feared the Glanmire area “won’t get the same level of service from the city council.” while another representative for the satellite town, councillor Padraig O’Sullivan, said he couldn’t understand why Carrigaline wasn’t in the mix.
“I think Blarney and Ballincollig were offered as a bargaining tool for Little Island and Carrigtwohill,” he said. “Why not also include Passage West, Surely it has more in common with the city.”
Blarney-based councillor Kevin Conway was “fuming” at the way the story was leaked without any county councillors getting an update on so-called behind-the-scenes negotiations until late yesterday.
“People have been ringing me up telling me and it’s in the newspapers and on every local radio station and I don’t know what’s going on officially,” he said.
Youghal councillor Mary Linehan Foley was also angry that the news was out before they were briefed.
“Why did I have to come up for a special meeting of the council to hear what was essentially already out there. I’m very angry about that,” she said.
Councillor John O’Sullivan, from Courtmacsherry, agreed the lack of information was a bugbear and was critical that communities’ views weren’t being taken into account in the boundary extension.
He said the “next big issue” is going to be about the level of compensation agreed for the current loss of rates and Local Property Tax (LPT) and the future loss of them for county council-formulated projects which are yet to come on stream.
However, he said it would have been “disastrous” if his council lost Little Island and Carrigtwohill as revenue from there helped to fund services in poorer areas.
Councillor Derry Canty, who had long battled for his hometown of Ballincollig to remain in the county, was angered by the prospect of it being swallowed by the city.
“Ballincollig has been hung out to dry. This is being rammed down our throats. There should be a judicial review,” he said and blamed his own Fine Gael party’s higher echelons for allowing that to happen.
Councillor Pat Gerard Murphy, who lives in Bantry, also reckoned that rural communities in those areas were being sold out, but was happy the big rates bases hadn’t been lost”.
Councillor Danny Collins maintained the oversight committee behind the implementation of the Mackinnon report was guilty of “bullying” it through.