Seanad debates

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Commencement Matters

Local Government Reform

2:30 pm

Photo of Jimmy DeenihanJimmy Deenihan (Minister, Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; Kerry North-West Limerick, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

The Senator must agree that publishing the report gave rise to a debate, which is part of what he is doing here today. I was in the Dáil last night when there was a similar debate by his colleagues in that House.

There is an ongoing public discussion and the Minister also said he would give further consideration to all of the details in the report. To repeat his statement, a considerable amount of work remains to be done to develop further the committee's high-level recommendation. The detail of what a unified system of local government in Cork would involve needs to be fully developed, including governance arrangements, functions, arrangements to maintain the status of the city and, indeed, addressing as necessary issues raised in the minority report.

The Minister has left it open for discussion, no doubt, and for further consideration. I am sure that both the city and county councillors will be providing their responses to the high-level recommendation. It will give rise to a major debate, obviously, and people will have to weigh up what is best for Cork overall.

As Cork is really the engine of the south-west region, and has a huge impact in my own county, especially in the southern and eastern parts, it is very important that the right decision is made down there. A strong entity would be a counterbalance to Dublin, which is currently experiencing one of the greatest booms in its history as we can see on the streets every day. I could see this strong counterbalance as one of the advantages for the whole island.

There are obviously pros and cons. I will not be making the decision, but as Senator Bradford raised the question, I thought I would respond to some extent. I will be passing on what he has said today and the various issues he has raised will be taken into consideration.

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