The minister for local government is prepared to legislate to extend Cork’s city-boundary within weeks in the absence of agreement from Cork’s two councils,.
Eoghan Murphy made his comments last night after the Cabinet accepted the report of the implementation oversight group (IOG) which recommended a compromise boundary extension — the city’s first since 1965. The decision ends a three-year saga on the boundary issue.
“It has taken almost three years to get to this position — a position that will allow Cork to have a more appropriate local government structure which is essential to help it reach its full potential and serve the people of both the city and county as effectively as possible,” said Mr Murphy.
“The Government now call upon the elected members and executive of both councils to embrace the boundary alteration process as a matter of urgency and to provide full and active support for the significant programme of associated implementation actions that lie ahead.
“I am open to using the statutory procedures in Part V of the Local Government Act 1991 if the local authorities can confirm, as a matter of priority, agreement using this approach. Alternatively, I will bring forward primary legislation to implement the boundary alteration, and have received Government approval for this course of action, as necessary.”
As first reported by the Irish Examiner last week, the proposed boundary accepted by Cabinet yesterday includes Ballincollig, Cork Airport, Glanmire, Tower and Blarney but excludes the Monard strategic development zone. Little Island and Carrigtwohill will remain in the county, as will settlements including Glounthane, Killumney, Ovens, Ballinora and Waterfall.
It will see the city’s population almost double from 100,000 to just under 210,000, to include almost 70% of the population of the Metropolitan Cork region.
The compromise emerged last week following weeks of negotiation between Cork City and County Councils overseen by the IOG, which was set up to implement the Mackinnon findings.
In his final report to Mr Murphy, IOG chairman John O’Connor, described the transfer of population, territory, revenues and staff as “unprecedented” in terms of local boundary extensions in Ireland.
His report recommended the urgent need for primary legislation if the extension is to be enacted ahead of the 2019 local elections.
It further recommends that legislation creating the Office of the Planning Regulator should ensure the regulator’s full oversight powers would apply to the Cork Metropolitan Area Plan; that the extended boundary be reviewed within 10 to 12 years; and the city pay compensation annually to the county, index-linked for 10 years, to be reviewed after three years, with a more detailed review in 10 years.
The Mayor of Cork County, Declan Hurley, noted that Cabinet had approved the IOG report and said the council would give it and its findings “due consideration at the earliest possible opportunity” and will comment further in due course.
“What is certain is that this report is hugely significant for Cork. Its recommendations will have profound implications for the future of Cork — both city and county — and will shape how the region will develop and grow in the years ahead,” he said.
Lord Mayor Tony Fitzgerald, welcomed the “finality” that the Cabinet decision brings tothe boundary issue.
“We must now focus on working with the IOG and our colleagues in Cork County Council to ensure a smooth transition. We look forward to engaging with all stakeholders,” he said.