‘We can’t let this lie’
There was outrage within Cork County Council this week following the Government’s decision to stop plans for a retail outlet centre in Carrigtwohill.
Councillors pulled no punches in their condemnation of the decision, with one councillor labelling it an “attack on democracy”.
Councillors were particularly unhappy with the timing of a letter from Minister for Local Government and Planning, Peter Burke, explaining that the proposal would not be progressed, which arrived on 23 December, the last day before the holidays.
It is estimated that the proposed retail village would create more than 800 jobs in Cork.
Speaking at a Cork County Council meeting this week, Cllr Michael Hegarty (FG) said he was amazed to receive the news on 23 December.
He said: “We’re all aware that our offices were shutting down that evening. I think that, considering that this item was on the Minister’s desk for several months, it was handled in a very poor and shabby way.”
One major concern shared by councillors is that if the retail centre can’t be built in Cork, it will go to another local authority somewhere else in the country.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said that Cork “shouldn’t let go” of the retail centre and that he feels councillors powers are being continuously eroded.
“This is something we can’t let slip. We can’t let ourselves go down this road,” he said.
Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Mary Linehan Foley, was in agreement with the councillors, calling for a judicial review on the decision.
She said: “The worrying part of this is the taking away of the few powers we have left. We can’t leave this lie. If we don’t take it, someone else will. This is something we cannot lose.”
The county mayor added that she is happy to meet with Minister Burke and An Taoiseach Micheál Martin to get the project over the line.
However, not all councillors were in support of the development of a retail outlet village in Cork, with Green Party councillor Alan O’Connor calling into question the sustainability of such a development.
Cllr O’Connor said: “I still feel that the development we’re proposing is unsustainable, and to incorporate an unsustainable development like this creates a contradiction in itself.”
He added that an environmental study completed as part of the proposal had holes in it that you could “sail the Titanic through” and concluded that you can’t bake a cake with cement.
Cork County Council will now seek legal advice in a bid to reverse the Government’s decision and secure the development of a retail outlet village in the county.