County Mayor Tells Councillors To Prepare For War

By Seamus Whelehan

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On a day that Cork County Council launched its World War One photographic exhibition in the foyer of County Hall, in chamber the County Mayor Declan Hurley and his Cllrs were fighting their own battle.
As tensions between City and County Council’s heighten over the current stalemate in the local government review process, there is a real possibility of legal action in order “to protect the interests of the people of Cork County.”
The local authority met in private for almost three hours on Monday 9 October as Cllrs and County executive discussed their options to break the impasse.
In September the authority offered its alternative to McKinnon report that recommended a 13km extension of the City limits.
However the City has not responded as they hold out for the implementation of the McKinnon report which has recommended report has recommended a city expansion taking in Ballincollig, Douglas, Rochestown, Glanmire, Little Island, Carrigtwohill and Cork Airport.
Cobh, Monkstown, Passage West and Carrigaline would remain in the County forming a lower harbour municipality.
County Mayor Declan Hurley told the October sitting of full Council he was giving Minister for Local Government Eoughan Murphy until 16 October to appoint an independent mediator to help broker a deal in the stalled boundary extension process.
Councillors also expressed their extreme anger over the granting of extra powers last week to Chairman of the Local government Implementation Group John O’Connor.
As “an authorised person” under legislation the former chairman of An Bord Pleanala can force both sides to co-operate in the process or face a heavy fine and or imprisonment.
Mayor Hurley said the Local Authority had been more than accommodating throughout the process up to date.
“It’s reluctant that I have to send a letter of this extent to the Minister. I don’t take threats likely and I certainly don’t make threats easily either. But we have no other option but to be forceful in the letter going to the Minister.”
“We’ve been dealing with this for the past three months. The goal posts have kept moving all along the way. I’m putting the minister on notice for the next seven days that we want to negotiate and if not we are going to have to take further action.”
Leader of Fianna Fail in Cork County Seamus McGrath said Mr O’Connor’s appointment can only be regarded as an extremely serious development.
He said “It’s a game changer, it’s changing the rules of engagement and runs contrary to any attempt to try and find a negotiated solution to the issue of the boundary between Cork City and County.”
Leader of the Labour Party in Cork County, Cathal Rasmussen said from the outset mediation was the correct course of action but it was never taken up, there was no interaction with the county to seek a solution.
“The City Council have ignored everything we’ve done up to now, all the letters all the discussions. We are now at the business end of things, now is the time for the Council to show strength. We can’t falter at this stage. If we falter at this stage things could change very fast in the next couple of weeks” commented Cllr Rasmussen.
Leader of Sinn Fein in Cork County des O’Grady said it was always his party’s position to seek mediation. However his Sinn Fein were not giving the Council an unconditional support for legal action.
He said they would support the Council for taking legal action on the appointment of John O’Connor “who now has dictatorial powers granted to him to set the boundary for Cork City and County.”
By making the appointment Minister Murphy was “moving the process further away from the people, it’s undemocratic and it’s moving it away from the elected representatives as well” commented Cllr O’Grady

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