Tuesday 12 December 2017

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Cork Independent

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Boundary debate continues

Wednesday, 11th October, 2017 4:57pm

Two of Cork’s largest business groups have called for an urgent resolution to the issue of Cork’s local government reform.

Cork Chamber of Commerce and IBEC have jointly sent a letter to housing minister Eoghan Murphy and John Paul Phelan the Minister of State at the Department of Housing.

They have requested, what they describe as, “proactive ministerial engagement to actively encourage, facilitate and support an urgent resolution” to the issue of local government reform in Cork.

The letter was signed by Bill O’Connell, Cork Chamber President and Dave Ronayne, President and IBEC Cork Region and was also sent to officials in Cork city and county councils, as well as Cork councillors, TDs and senators.

The letter, seen by the Cork Independent, said: “We request that flexibility in the MacKinnon Report implementation group terms of reference is clearly established to enable both local authorities to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.”

They believe that swift progress is required and that it is essential that a strong cross party leadership is seen to reach a resolution.

“Failure to reach agreement will reflect and impact negatively on all involved,” they said in the letter.

Cork Chamber of Commerce and IBEC collectively represent more than 1,200 businesses employing, they say, almost 12,000 people across Cork city and county where the business community contributes €194 million per year or 42 per cent of the total combined budget of local authorities – the largest proportion in the country, according to the letter.

Both organisations said that the letter highlights the “gravity of the need” for swift progress in advance of the 2019 election.

The letter continued: “While both Cork Chamber and IBEC view the establishment of one local authority, with an enlarged city area, as being the optimum solution we recognised that there is considerable merit in many aspects of the MacKinnon report which recommends an enlarged city and the retention of two authorities.”

They also believe that Cork city needs to be expanded significantly but appropriately.

The letter also says that the MacKinnon Report provides a “very strong” framework on which to base an agreed final solution which is good for all of Cork.

“An agreed interpretation of boundaries and compensation must provide certainty that all changes are viable and sustainable for both authorities which recognising the importance of enabling Cork city to expand extensively in line with economic and social needs now and into the future,” the letter to the housing department said.

Both Cork Chamber and IBEC told Ministers Murphy and Phelan that political leadership and support is required to reach a speedy and equitable agreement between Cork city and county councils.

They said in the letter: “Local government reform is challenging but if done correctly it can present real opportunities.

“Once uncertainty and negotiation give way to clarity of direction we can forge ahead and further distinguish ourselves amongst a host of competitive city regions in Ireland and beyond.”

It concluded: “The business community requests that government works proactively with stakeholders to make this happen.”

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