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Report backs merged Cork city and county authority

Words: Roger Milne
Cork / iStock_000017931158

Controversial proposals to merge Cork city and county into a single ‘super council’ are expected to move fast over the coming months to ensure that the new authority is in place for the 2019 local elections.

Despite strong opposition from many organisations and bodies (including the existing city council), the five-person committee that reviewed the issues has recommended the amalgamation of both councils instead of expanding the Cork City boundary.

The 120-page report (PDF) from the Cork Local Government Review Group, just published, makes 15 key recommendations that support creating a unified authority for Cork.

The report insisted that the new arrangements would enable Cork to “develop centres of excellence in the delivery of services across the region in areas such as economic development, housing and planning”.

But the committee was split over the best solution for reorganising the local authorities. A minority report from two of the review team favoured expanding Cork.

Once combined, the new Cork authority would have a population of 519,032, making it Ireland’s second-biggest council, just behind Dublin City Council, which has a population of 527,612.

In an initial response environment minister Alan Kelly said: “I agree with the recommendation to create a unified Cork local authority. I believe that this can achieve all of the benefits of addressing the boundary issue while avoiding the disadvantages that would arise from transferring substantial resources and consequential compensation payments between two separate city and county councils.”

He added: “There is potential to achieve much more than a boundary extension or simple merger of two existing councils in terms of an opportunity to develop a new model of local government in Cork, with a strong rationale for devolution of powers and functions and scope to introduce innovative governance arrangements.”