In a bid to heal the wounds caused by the controversial three-year boundary saga, Lord Mayor Tony Fitzgerald and Mayor of Co Cork, Declan Hurley, issued a joint statement yesterday saying the proposed extension provides the best way for both the city and county to move forward.
“Working together, both councils can grow Cork to be a true counter-balance to Dublin and help to drive the national economy,” said Mr Fitzgerald.
Mr Hurley added: “The developments provide a solid basis to move forward — on a joint collaborative basis — to drive the entire city and county of Cork as the leading economic region outside of Dublin, and that is great news for Cork.”
The deal was agreed following days of negotiation involving senior officials and political representatives from both councils, overseen by the Implementation Oversight Group (IOG), which was set up to implement the findings of the Mackinnon review group.
The bones of the deal emerged last Friday and were fleshed out during marathon talks at the Cork Airport Hotel on Monday. Elected members of both councils were then briefed on the proposals.
City councillors welcomed the outcome, but deep divisions remain in the county, where a six-hour briefing in County Hall continued until close to midnight.
However, sources close to the process said the divisions will not affect the agreed boundary line, which will be submitted today by IOG chairman John O’Connor as part of his implementation report to Local Government Minister Eoghan Murphy.
If the minister agrees to approve the alterations, legislation giving effect to the first city boundary extension since 1965 could be in place by March, before constituency reviews take place ahead of the 2019 local elections.
The new boundary will bring Ballincollig, Blarney, Tower, Douglas, Rochestown, Glanmire, and Cork Airport into the city. Carrigtwohill, the rates-rich area of Little Island, and Monard, which is earmarked for major development, will remain in the county.
The city’s population will increase from just over 100,000 to almost 210,000. The extension will also bring almost 70% of the population of metropolitan Cork inside the city boundary. A 12- to 15-year review of the boundary has been built into the deal.
Mr Fitzgerald said the process was protracted and complex and the planned extension did not meet all the city council’s expectations.
“However, it represents a historic opportunity for Cork, both for the city and county,” he said.
Mr Hurley said both councils had invested significant effort in the proposal.
“Everyone involved has adopted the approach that any boundary alteration must deliver what is best for Cork, its people, its communities, its future,” he said.