Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Minister Alan Kelly Appoints Group to Review Cork City & County Boundary

Published on Thursday, 15 Jan 2015

Minister Alan Kelly Appoints Group to Review Cork City & County Boundary


Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Government, Mr Alan Kelly TD, has today appointed a statutory committee to review the Cork city boundary and other local government arrangements in Cork.

The Minister sees a clear case for extending the Cork City boundary to encompass a wider metropolitan area and has appointed an independent group to review the boundary and examine whether the local authority structures should be merged.

Following a meeting with the mayors and chief executives of Cork City & County, the Minister said:

“From the point of view of coherent development, it’s important that both the city and county are not held back in terms of economic progress and resolving the boundary issue permanently is part of that. This is about selecting the most appropriate system of local government for Cork city and County and ensuring proper democratic representation. Issues such as commercial rates, planning and unnecessary duplication of administration are holding Cork back and need to be addressed.

“The environs of the Cork city which is not part of the Cork City Council area for local government purposes, has a population of 79,000 people so there is a clear need to have an independent overview of local Government structures in Cork,” stated Minister Kelly.

The review aligns with the Government’s overall approach to Local Government Reform which has seen changes to local administration in Tipperary, Limerick and Waterford.

A statutory committee will be convened shortly which will be tasked to review the local authority structures in Cork within nine months and will then be dissolved. The group includes leading academics from UCC, a former county manager and will be chaired by former Beamish & Crawford CEO, Alf Smiddy.

The group will be established under section 28 of the Local Government Act 1991 which precludes elected representatives from participating and will act independently. Minister Kelly stated that he was delighted that people of such strong calibre were willing to come forward on a ‘pro-bono’ basis and assist in designing appropriate structures for Cork city and county.   “The option of unifying the city and county structures in Cork should also be considered in view of the potential benefits such as strengthening local government, elimination of administrative duplication, improved service delivery, greater efficiency, economies of scale, and more cohesive and effective economic development,” said Minister Kelly “I have full confidence that this committee will propose the structures that it believes will serve the best interests of the people of Cork City and County. They have an independent mandate and will be completing this exercise in nine months. I want local authorities to become a key engine for economic growth and resolving issues such as city and county boundaries will bring certainty to many aspects of local Government in Cork,”

In accordance with sections 32 and 33 of the Local Government Act 1991, the Committee is required to carry out an objective review of local government arrangements in Cork City and County, including the boundary of Cork City, the local government areas and the local authorities for such areas, and to prepare a report making recommendations for improvements in such arrangements with respect to: -  

(a) whether the boundary of Cork city should be altered and if so, recommendations with respect to the alteration of the boundary; or

(b) whether Cork City Council and Cork County Council should be unified; and

(c) any further related matters on which the Minister may request the Committee to make recommendations during the course of its review.  

The Committee is comprised of the following members:          

Mr Alf Smiddy (Chair);       

Mr Tom Curran;        

Professor Dermot Keogh;        

Mr John Lucey, S.C.; and                 

Dr Theresa Reidy.  

Appointments, based on knowledge of the areas and expertise in local government, are on a “pro bono” basis, with no payments apart from any necessary travel/subsistence expenses. The Committee will report later in the year.

The full terms of reference for the group are available below and will be available on the Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government’s website:


Cork Local Government Review

Terms of Reference

1. The Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government hereby establishes the Cork Local Government Committee under section 28 of the Local Government Act 1991, hereinafter referred to as “the Committee”.

2. The following persons are hereby appointed as members of the Committee: -

 Mr Alf Smiddy (Chair);  Mr Tom Curran;  Professor Dermot Keogh;  Mr John Lucey, S.C.; and   Dr Theresa Reidy.

3. The Committee shall be independent in the performance of its functions and shall stand dissolved on submission of its final report to the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government.

4. In accordance with sections 32 and 33 of the Local Government Act 1991, the Committee is hereby required to carry out an objective review of local government arrangements in Cork city and county, including the boundary of Cork city, the local government areas and the local authorities for such areas, and to prepare a report making recommendations for improvements in such arrangements with respect to: -

(a) whether the boundary of Cork city should be altered and if so, recommendations with respect to the alteration of the boundary; or (b) whether Cork City Council and Cork County Council should be unified; and (c) any further related matters on which the Minister may request the Committee to make recommendations during the course of its review.

5. In the event of a recommendation that the boundary of Cork city should be altered or that Cork City Council and Cork County Council should be unified, the report shall contain relevant supporting information, analysis and rationale relating to or arising from such recommendation, including the following matters: -

(a) The financial and other relevant implications of the options at 4(a) and 4(b), including the potential outcomes to be achieved, and likely benefits and costs. (b) The actions and arrangements that should be implemented in order to maximise savings, efficiency and effectiveness and to support key  requirements of local government, particularly effective, accountable representation and governance, and efficient performance of functions and delivery of services. (c) Any significant issues that are considered likely to arise in the implementation of revised arrangements and how these should be addressed. (d) Measures that should be taken consequential to or in the context of the recommended arrangements, including any measures in relation to financial arrangements. (e) In the event of a recommendation that Cork City Council and Cork County Council should be unified- (i)  the most appropriate arrangement of municipal districts within the unified city and county, including designation of a metropolitan district in respect of Cork city, (ii) any changes which should be made in the allocation of reserved functions, or in governance arrangements generally, as between the local authority for the overall city and county and the municipal or metropolitan district members, having regard particularly to the extent of area and population in Cork city and county. (f) In the event of a recommendation that the boundary of Cork city should be altered, any matters in relation to which provision should be made in a primary order or a supplementary order (providing for matters arising from, in consequence of, or related to, the boundary extension) within the meaning of section 34 of the Local Government Act 1991, including any financial adjustments required. (g) Any interim measures which should be taken in advance of, or in preparation for, the full implementation of the recommendations. (h) The appropriate timescale for implementation of recommendations, including any interim measures.   6. In carrying out its review and formulating its recommendations, the Committee shall address the following matters in particular: -

(a) The need to take full account of: - (i) experience to date of local authority merger in Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford, including the type of administrative streamlining, efficiencies and economies of scale achieved, and non-financial benefits arising from unification; (ii) current demographic and relevant spatial and socio-economic factors, including settlement and employment patterns; (iii) detailed information to be provided by the relevant local authorities in relation to their structure, services, finances and operations or other matters relevant to the Committee’s functions; (iv) Government policy in relation to local government as set out in the Action Programme for Effective Local Government, Putting People First, and in relation to the public service and the public finances; (v) any relevant analysis or recommendations in reports or studies relating to local government, to the Cork area, or to any of the Committee’s functions. (b) The relative degree of complexity that would be likely to arise in organisational, financial or other administrative aspects of different options or arrangements considered, or in the implementation of, or transition to, such arrangements. (c) The need to maximise efficiency and value for money in local government. (d) The need to ensure that Cork city and county is served by viable and effective local government, including any arrangements considered necessary to strengthen local government and enhance the effectiveness of democratic representation and accountability. (e) The need to ensure that the future local government arrangements recommended are financially sustainable and will not result in an ongoing additional cost to central Government through increased subvention. (f) Staffing, organisational, representational, financial, service delivery and other relevant requirements. (g) The need to maximise the capacity of local government to promote the economic and social development of Cork city and county and the wider region in the context of the National Spatial Strategy and the Regional Planning Guidelines, and of the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy and Local Economic and Community Plan, to be drawn up under the Planning and Local Government Acts, respectively. (h) The need to maximise the capacity of the Cork metropolitan area, in particular, to act as a strong and dynamic focus and generator of growth for the wider hinterland, and that of other urban and rural areas to contribute in that regard in the context of balanced development. (i) Any weaknesses in current local authority arrangements or operations that need to be addressed. (j) Any additional matters that the Minister may specify.

7. The Committee shall make such recommendations with respect to the requirements at (4) and (5) and (6) as it considers necessary in the interests of effective, efficient and innovative local government. It shall prepare and furnish to the Minister, no later than nine months after the commencement of the review, a report, in writing, of its review and recommendations, which the Minister shall publish.

January 2015.

Biography:  Alf Smiddy (BComm, FCA, FMII, MSc)

Alf Smiddy is a Chartered Accountant by profession, having worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers, and subsequently in leadership roles in the Irish and international hospitality and beverage sector for over 20 years. He was Chairman and Managing Director of Cork head quartered Beamish & Crawford Plc for over twelve years, and on the board of its parent company, Scottish & Newcastle (UK) Ltd (a FTSE 100 company) until the takeover of the Group in 2008 for €12b by a global beverage conglomerate.  He is presently on the Board of The Dalata Hotel Group Plc - the largest hotel group in Ireland, and also with hotel operations in the UK; and previously was a Director of The Moran & Bewleys Hotel Group. Alf is an honours Commerce graduate from University College Cork. He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland, a Fellow of the Irish Marketing Institute, and has a Diploma in Corporate Direction from the Irish Institute of Directors. In 2009 he graduated with a Masters in Executive Leadership from Boston College and the University of Ulster. Since 2008 Alf has been working as a Director, Business Advisor and Consultant for organisations across a range of sectors (private and public sectors) including Hotel & Hospitality, Financial Services, Marketing & Technology, Retail, Research & Education, Agriculture & Food, Engineering and Local Government. He has extensive experience in Non Executive and Executive Chairperson and Director roles, and also working in leadership positions in a multi-national hospitality and consumer goods business environment across many continents. He also works with leadership teams and CEOs in the Private and Public Sectors in Ireland on Organisational Development, Design & Strategy, Marketing & Business Development, Debt & Balance Sheet Restructuring, Strategic Financial Management, and HR. He has extensive experience in working in family companies & partnerships, and dealing with the myriad of issues faced by owner managers of SMEs and family companies. Alf is a Director of Cork Chamber of Commerce (the representative body of c1,200 companies in Cork City and County, and has also served as a member of the National Executive Council of IBEC. Alf was born in Cork (1962), and lives in Glanmire, Co Cork. He is married to Jo Smiddy, a Resource Teacher specialising in teaching children with special needs, and they have five children.

Dr Dermot Keogh

Dr. Dermot Keogh is a member of the Royal Irish Academy and Emeritus Professor of History and Emeritus Jean Monnet Professor of European Integration Studies, University College Cork. He is a graduate of University College Dublin where he also completed his MA.  He did his doctorate at the European University Institute, Florence. He is the author of 12 monographs, edited five and co-edited nineteen volumes. 

His books include, The Vatican, the Bishops and Irish Politics, Ireland and Europe, 1919 1948; Ireland and the Vatican: The Politics and Diplomacy of Church and State, 1922 1960; Jews in Twentieth Century Ireland: Refugees, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust; The Making of the Irish Constitution 1937; Jack Lynch – A Biography; Sir Bertram Windle, the Honan Bequest and the Modernisation of University College Cork, 1904-1919

Professor Keogh has been twice a Fulbright Professor;  twice a senior scholar, Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars; Washington DC; Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Irish Studies, Queen’s University, Belfast; and Jean Monnet Professor, European University Institute, Florence

Since his retirement in 2010, Prof. Keogh has been the Burns Scholar, Boston College, a visiting professor at the University of Montana, and a visiting Professor at the Universidad del Salvador, Buenos Aires. He is on the team of editors for Documents on Irish Foreign Policy

John Lucey SC

John Lucey is a Senior Counsel with an extensive practice in the fields of commercial and personal injuries litigation.  He was educated in University College Cork and the Kings Inns.  In 1987 he was called to the Bar of Ireland and was admitted to the Bar of England and Wales in 1996.  In 2010 he was appointed a Senior Counsel.

He is an accredited mediator, a former member of the Professional Practices Committee of the Bar Council of Ireland, a former chairperson of the Pharmacy Assessment Board and a former board member of the Triskel Arts Centre, Cork.  

During his career he has lectured regularly and chaired many seminars on topics of legal interest.

Tom Curran

Caherciveen native Tom Curran graduated with a degree in civil engineering from University College Cork in 1976. The following year, after working in London for a time, he joined Sligo County Council as Assistant Engineer for Planning from 1977 to 1978 before moving onto Drogheda Corporation as Assistant Engineer for all services in the years 1978 – 1982.  In 1982 he moved onto Limerick County Council as Executive Engineer in water services, planning and roads and in 1988 he took up the position of Senior Executive Engineer in roads, water and environment. In 1997, Tom became County Engineer in Kerry and then became Director of Services for Roads and Killarney Town Manager and has served as County Manager from June 2007 and retired in June 2014.

Dr Theresa Reidy

Dr Theresa Reidy is a lecturer in the Department of Government at University College Cork. Her research interests lie in the areas of public finance and political behaviour in Ireland. Dr Reidy has been involved in a number of research projects on elections and referendums. She is Vice President of the Political Studies Association of Ireland (PSAI), co-editor of Irish Political Studies. She has organised a series of academic and practitioner conferences on political reform, referendums, election campaigning and local government. She has given expert evidence to parliamentary committees, the constitutional convention and is a regular contributor to RTE radio and the print media.

Press Office Tel: (01) 888 2638 (direct) (01) 888 2000 E-Mail: Web site: Twitter:@EnvironPress




Sub topic