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Cork Independent


Smiddy has his say

Wednesday, 6th December, 2017 6:04pm

Alf Smiddy was the chairman of the Cork Local Government Review Committee which in September 2015 recommended merging Cork’s two local authorities into one super council.

This was met with a backlash at the time and the report was later shelved when the then local government minister Simon Coveney appointed a new group to examine Cork’s local government arrangements. This resulted in the MacKinnon report.

In the ‘Smiddy Report’ in 2015, Mr Smiddy said that in an enlarged city it will be more difficult to focus on the city centre, with satellite towns likely taking more development. He also said in the 2015 report that there would be major financial complexities associated with a boundary extension. The Cork Independent asked Mr Smiddy what he thought about the compromised plan to enlarge the city boundary. Here’s what he had to say:


“This deal feels like a total cop out by our elected politicians, and I guess if what's on the table now ahead of Christmas is the best they could achieve, then the results from the ballot box in the next local and general elections will make for very interesting reading.
Whilst I wish both sides well, and any decision is better than the status quo, my observations are made for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the compromise now on the table was actually seriously considered by the both the Smiddy Statutory Committee and also the McKinnion Review Group, and totally rejected by both groups.
Consequently, we now have a suboptimal compromise that no expert group would ever have put their names to; it's clearly a fudged compromise arising from pure political horse trading and expediency. It appears self serving, and with citizens in the Cork region and specifically in Ballincollig, Blarney and Glanmire totally ignored and never consulted with. Has anyone listened to the views of citizens and families in these communities?; and also why did sense eventually prevail with Little Island, Glounthaune and Carrigtwohill now being left in the county? Did these areas have more political clout?
I fear the city centre will lose out hugely as all the focus for many years ahead will shift to developing and implementing action plans which carves up the Cork region and begins the process of dismembering Ballincollig, Blarney and Glanmire from a very progressive Cork County Council. 
Cork city centre is certain to suffer, and it's just so hard to see how the key city centre issues (including decades of underinvestment, the housing and homeless crisis, the serious levels of dereliction, the major issues faced by retailers in the heart of the city, etc) will get any real focus for many years to come. This comes at a time when every effort should be directed at finding a €1billion investment fund to address these issues in the city centre. 
As far as I know, there has been zero consultation with staff or unions as circa 400 management and staff members will be now be forced to transfer from county to city. The staff from both councils are key stakeholders and were never engaged on any of this, and many will be hugely affected. That doesn't seem right to me. 
It's bizarre that vast rural and farming communities within these three areas will become part of the city. Are we really in all seriousness suggesting Matehy, Vicarstown, and half way out to Donoughmore should be in a city boundary now? It will be an interesting dynamic to see a lord mayor from Vicarstown or from an IFA community as our first citizen representing Cork city.
There is no information on the precise financial implications of this compromise, which as a chartered accountant I find bizarre. 
My biggest fear is that all of this will paralyse Cork for years to come as Limerick continues to power ahead with a single voice, totally united, and we in Cork remain fragmented and hugely divided.”








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