Minister Alan Kelly running from real debate on proposed Cork merger - Jonathan O'Brien TD
Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O'Brien has said that Minister Alan Kelly is avoiding a real debate on the the proposed merger of Cork City and County Councils. Deputy O'Brien also accused the Minister of propagating falsehoods and misinformation on matter.
O'Brien made the comments after challenging the Minister about the proposal during a topical issues debate in the Dáil this evening.
Speaking from Leinster House, Deputy O'Brien said;
"I am extremely frustrated and angry at the quality and the nature of the response that I received from the Minister tonight.
"I listened very carefully to what he had to say. However, I heard no coherent reasoning as to why he believes that this merger is the right option for Cork citizens.
"What is alarmingly clear is that Alan Kelly is determined to push through this merger despite the growing evidence that it is not in the best interests of the people of Cork City and County
"We now have the unprecedented move by a local authority to direct its Chief Executive to take legal action against a government minister and to seek a judicial review of the process involved.
"In my view, instead of communicating a clear and viable vision for local government in Cork, the Minister engaged in falsehoods and a misrepresentation of the facts in his efforts to avoid engaging in a real debate in the Dáil.
"The government parties are all over the place on the issue. Today, we had a Fine Gael TD arrogantly describing Cork City Council "as a failed entity" while one of his party colleagues, instead of constructively supporting the campaign against the merger, decided to attack the Mayor of Cork City, Cllr Chris O'Leary, who has been recognised, by all shades of political opinion, as a person arguing against this fundamentally flawed proposal in a genuine and pro-active way.
"The objective of these actions is clearly to deflect from the fact that this proposal is an assault on local democracy in Cork. It is all about centralising power and taking it further away from the people.
Deputy O'Brien also took the opportunity to invite Minister Kelly to engage him in a public debate on the issue;
"I don't think we were allowed a real debate in the Dáil this evening. The Minister cannot run from this type of engagement. It is too important to the future of Cork.
"I am so confident in my own assertion that this is not in the best interests of the people of Cork that I am willing to debate with Minister Alan Kelly in a public forum. This would afford the people of Cork the opportunity to make-up their own minds on the matter."