15 August 2017
By Bryan Smyth
Cork City Lord Mayor, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald has said Cork City Council’s long held vision is that the city needs a substantial boundary extension if it is to compete internationally for investment and act as a sustainable counterbalance to Dublin.
The Lord Mayor re-iterated that the MacKinnon report has been accepted by Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy who set up an oversight group to oversee its implementation and that it cannot be re-written.
He also warned that if Cork City’s population isn’t allowed to grow to 500,000 as outlined in the MacKinnon report, it would lose competitive advantage and fall substantially behind Dublin and Belfast.
“If we agreed to a more limited boundary extension, Cork City could go from being the second city in this country to possible third or fourth tier status. As it stands, Belfast is defined as a global city. Cork isn’t. If we agree to a more limited boundary extension, Cork would end up one sixth smaller in size than Belfast is now – yet Belfast intends growing its population to 427,000 by 2035. This shortsightedness on our behalf would seriously undermine the wider Cork region’s capacity to compete globally and to attract investment and jobs, “he said.
“The proposal put forward by Cork County Council also runs contrary to the principles underpinning MacKinnon report, to the Ministers decision to accept the report, to the terms of reference and to the appointment of the Oversight Group to oversee implementation of the expert group report,” he said.
“In the words of MacKinnon, a substantial boundary extension is the opportunity to turn rhetoric around Corks enormous potential into reality. This very report warns that other city regions in Ireland are making conscious preparations to grow, develop and respond to new opportunities and could potentially challenge Cork’s place as the natural counterbalance to Dublin”.
Cork City Council’s evidence based vision was endorsed by the MacKinnon report which signalled that Cork’s potential was dependant on the city having the capacity, authority and governance independence to drive population and economic growth.