Ireland needs to recognise the role that towns will play in its future.
Tim Lucey, chief executive of Cork County Council, made the remark at this morning's Cork County on the Rise event.
Mr Lucey claimed that a stronger focus on the development of towns and smaller areas outside cities can help to cut costs for companies and to improve the living conditions of employees.
"We need to get away from the word decline," he said.
"There has been a shift in emphasis from central government, despite the work of the government on rural and community development, on cities. But, there are 95,000 people employed in the County. 53,000 of these are in towns and hinterlands but 40,000 are in villages and rural countrysides."
Mr Lucey said that it is time to recognise that there is more in Ireland "than five cities".
We don't have to move towards concepts like New York; significant high density is not our culture
~ he said.
"While we can achieve it, we also have to recognise our towns and the roles they play. We have an exceptionally strong SME sector and elements like remote working and digital hubs offer significant opportunities for further development."