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Merger wrong for Cork – Sinn Féin

8 September, 2015 - by Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Sinn Féin have heavily criticised the recommendations made by the Cork Local Government Reform Committee, also known as the Smiddy Committee.

It's recommendations was announced today by Minister Alan Kelly, and it has recommended a merger, with 3 in favour and 2 against.

Sinn Féin have strongly resisted a merger, and were the only party to oppose it in County Hall as well as in City Hall, instead calling for a reasonable expansion, and dedicated County and City Councils.

County Councillor and General Election Candidate, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said;

“This is a very sad day for Local Government in Cork. There has been separate Local Government Structures in Cork City for hundreds of years. It now appears as if that will be cast aside with the stroke of a pen.”

“A merger, we have strong argued, is bad for the City and for the County. The challenges they face are entirely different, and a merger will lead to poor focus, that will serve neither Cork City or County well. I cannot think of a single thriving Urban Centre internationally, that does not have it's own independent unit of Local Government.”

“Likewise, already rural Cork has lost so much democratic representation in recent years, and this is likely to exacerbate the problem, and I fear, will affect delivery of services in peripheral areas in the North and West of the County. It is part of the further centralisation of Local Government, at the start of 2014 there were 14 Councils, with the Town Councils in Cork, now there will only be one.”

“The experience where mergers have happened, in Limerick and Waterford specifically, have not been happy ones, it was sold on the basis of huge savings which never materialised, and there is friction between rural and urban priorities regularly. It was described to me by one elected member as a 'con job.'

“This failed experiment should not be applied here. The Government's actions will now be keenly watched in Cork. Do they subscribe to the agenda that Dublin is the only City that matters? This report made its recommendations on the slimmest of margins, the Minister has discretion in this matter.”

Cllr Ó Laoghaire also urged all Cork TDs to vote against any such proposal if it becomes legislation.

“We have had mixed messages from the other parties on this thus far, for a merger in County Hall, but against it in City Hall. Some TDs arguing for a merger, such as Michael McGrath, and prior to this process Simon Coveney, with their colleagues such as Micheál Martin and Jerry Buttimer arguing against.”

“If a Council is to be done away with it will require legislation, and the people of Cork deserve to know where their TDs stand. I would urge all of our TDs to vote against any merger, and to give Cork County and Cork City the opportunity they deserves to thrive, strong, prosperous, and independent.”

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