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Changes ‘rushed through’

Wednesday, 5th December, 2018 4:58pm

Crucial changes had to be “rushed through” last night relating to the future of Cork city and county.

128 amendments needed to be passed relating to the Local Government Bill 2018, which included the Cork city boundary extension and the possibility of a directly elected mayor on Leeside.

The meeting began yesterday evening, with notice being given to politicians on Tuesday to review the 30 pages of amendments.

There are plans to hold the election on a directly elected mayor in May 2019 when the public will also vote in the local elections, which will see some county councillors vie for seats in the city as the Cork city boundary is to finally extended.

Speaking to the Cork Independent before Wednesday’s meeting, Cork Solidarity TD Mick Barry said: “This is being rushed through. They said that if it isn’t done, that the i’s won’t dotted and the t’s won’t be crossed for May 2019.”

He continued: “The Government is rushing these amendments through at the last minute and this is not the way such important business should be handled.”
One area of concern before yesterday evening’s meeting was the plan to hold plebiscites on directly elected mayors in Cork City Council, Limerick City and County Council and Waterford City and County Council. 

The concerns related to what powers a directly mayor would have in Cork city. 

Local Labour party representative Peter Horgan said: “It beggar’s belief that the Government would wait so long to publish such significant amendments to its own bill. We've no clarity on services. No clarity on powers of a supposed new mayor but the Government wants us to press on and above it all in a fog of doubt.”

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government Deputy John Paul Phelan gave the instructions to the select committee on Tuesday.

Cork TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said: “I appreciate that there is a timeline which has to be worked in terms of electoral registers. I do not particularly want to see any delay in the Bill’s progress because it has to be dealt with. However, it is far from ideal that spokespersons on local government or Cork members have to deal with 30 pages of amendments at such short notice. 

“I appreciate that the departmental officials have to do this. However, for many of us, these are our local authorities. The amendments concern the financial sustainability of our local authorities, with rules for development and local area plans. We will have less than 48 hours in which to digest all of the amendments and then decide on positions on committee stage. 

“That is far from an ideal way of legislating and it puts us in a difficult position,” he said.

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