Minister Kelly welcomes report of the Cork Local Government Committee

Published on Tuesday, 08 Sep 2015

Minister Kelly welcomes report of the Cork Local Government Committee


Mr Alan Kelly, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, has today (8 September 2015) welcomed the report of the Cork Local Government Committee into local government arrangements in Cork.

In an initial response, Minister Kelly said, “I would like to thank the Committee, under the stewardship of Mr. Alf Smiddy, for the work undertaken and for the timely submission of its report, which I have fully considered. I note that it has made considerable progress in identifying and analysing issues and possible approaches, including the unanimous conclusion that retention of the status quo in Cork is not tenable and the need to define a substantial Cork metropolitan area.”

The Committee’s main recommendation, based on the position of the majority of its members, is that a new unitary authority should be established in place of both the county and city councils. A minority favoured maintaining the two existing local authority structures, with an extended city boundary.

The Minister 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.” Minister Kelly added that, “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.”

The Minister noted that, “resolving the serious and long-standing boundary issue in Cork comes down to a choice between a unified authority for all of Cork or transferring a substantial component of the county council to the city council, while maintaining two separate structures” With the latter, there would have to be a compensation system involving very large annual mandatory transfer payments over many years together with a transfer of a substantial number of staff, which, the Minister added, “could be complex, divisive and ultimately unsatisfactory for both authorities each of which would be much weaker than a unified authority.”

It should be noted that the report published today has no implications for the history of  local government traditions in Cork City.  These traditions are unaffected and will be retained. The position of Lord Mayor and first citizen remain unchanged and will be a feature into the future as well.

The Minister indicated that he would give further consideration to all of the details in the report and make an early submission to Government with a view to initiating arrangements for further development and implementation. He also said that he is satisfied that the concerns of the minority position can be addressed, as necessary, in the further development and implementation of the new arrangements .


Note for editors

An independent statutory local government committee was established by the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government on 15 January 2015 under the Local Government Act 1991 to carry out an objective review of local government arrangements in Cork city and county including the boundary of Cork city and to make recommendations with respect to whether the boundary of the city should be altered or whether Cork City Council and Cork County Council should be unified. The membership of the Committee, which stands dissolved on submission of its final report to the Minister, was as follows: -

Mr Alf Smiddy  

Mr Tom Curran  

Professor Dermot Keogh  

Mr John Lucey, S.C.             

Dr Theresa Reidy.

The Committee’s report, incorporating a minority report by Professor Keogh and Dr Reidy, was submitted to the Minister on 2 September 2015.

The Report is available here.


Sub topic