Cork’s city councillors have asked officials for a special briefing on the Lee to Sea greenway project and to explain the public consultation process on route selection.
It comes after a heated row over a controversial greenway upgrade.
An attempt by Fine Gael Cllr Des Cahill during Monday's city council meeting to persuade the council to call for the re-examination of a coastal route option for the Passage railway greenway upgrade was unsuccessful.
The selection of the Rochestown Road as the preferred route for an upgrade of the greenway between Harty’s Quay and Hop Island has caused controversy after a coastal route was favoured by most who made submissions on various route options.
It emerged last week that a submission signed ‘An Garda Siochana’, and which argued against the coastal route, did not represent the views of the force. Gardaí later clarified that the submission was not authorised by senior management.
Supporters of the coastal route say this submission has undermined this round of public consultation. But city officials have insisted that the ‘garda’ submission was one of over 300 submissions, and that the concerns and views of local residents living along the route also had to be taken into account.
They have also insisted that once final detailed designs have been prepared for the Rochestown Road route, they will be published for statutory public consultation, at which stage An Garda Siochána will be formally asked to comment.
Mr Cahill tried last night to introduce a motion calling for the coastal route to be included in that round of public consultation, along with the roadside route.
“We want a fair comparison of both, with a list of pros and cons for each route,” he said.
"All this motion does is allow us to do due diligence on two options out of five. It is incumbent on us to have properly investigated both sides of the argument.”
But Fianna Fáil Cllrs Sean Martin and Terry Shannon accused Mr Cahill of breaking from protocol and asked the council’s head of corporate affairs, Paul Moynihan, to explain the rules governing how motions are brought before council.
Mr Moynihan said every notice of motion should be submitted to the meeting’s administrator with due notice and he said he was of the view that Mr Cahill’s motion “was not appropriate to standing orders”. Lord Mayor Joe Kavanagh then ruled Mr Cahill out of order.
Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy said this greenway upgrade has sparked a lot of controversy and what he described as “severe bullying” on Twitter.
“And I don’t say that lightly,” he said.
Cllr Lorna Bogue said: “This project is generating a lot more heat than light, and that’s not helpful for either side.”
Independent Cllr Ken O’Flynn and Green Party Cllr Dan Boyle both supported Mr Cahill’s calls for a briefing on the Lee to Sea project, given that many more greenway upgrades are likely along the route of the proposed Lee to Sea route.
Meanwhile, the city’s director of infrastructure development, Gerry O’Beirne, said the city council is very supportive of the Lee to Sea project, and ensured it was included as a key element in the CMATS transport plan.
He said following the securing of a €50,000 route study grant earlier this year, the council is preparing a consultants’ brief which will issue within the next six weeks.