What is at stake here is local democracy and the civic participation of citizens in organising and running local government in our respective areas. The councillors elected to Cork City and County Councils in May 2014 received no mandate from the citizens to impose such a body. There is no ‘grassroots’ demand for this outrageous proposal — it is being foisted on people by bureaucrats, business consultants and by some, though not all, property developers.
What have Blackpool and Baltimore got in common or Kinsale and Knocknaheeny? They have different histories, growth patterns, and what is crucial here, totally different local government and community needs.
Those who live west of the Viaduct — the people of West Cork, already know that they are second class citizens as far as Cork County Council is concerned.
People there are entitled to main roads of the same standard as those enjoyed by people elsewhere in the county (or over the border in Kerry). Instead we have sick jokes about West Cork roads which have scarcely improved in the past 50 years.
If this new proposed administrative and bureaucratic monstrosity is steamrolled through, the people of West Cork will become the forgotten people on ‘the periphery’.
The invitation to ‘interested stakeholders’ to make submissions to the government’s review body is farcical as a form of public consultation. In a country with a real commitment to local democracy, which is where democracy begins, there would be a local referendum held to decide this issue. That will never happen here. There is no legislation to allow for the real consultation of all citizens on a major issue such as this.
The people of Cork city and county need to wake up and realise what is happening.
Last year we had the first phase in the degradation of local government with the abolition of 83 town councils and with them a whole layer of democracy and civic participation.
This ‘super council’ proposal is phase two of a drive to deprive citizens of traditional democratic rights. What can be done to stop this?
Perhaps our great Cork patriots, Rossa, Collins, Barry, McCurtain and MacSwiney can provide some inspiration?
Or are we just content to commemorate them?