Cork City and County Merger

Merging Cork City and County Councils – A dream for some and a nightmare for others. City and county alike are divided.

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In September, Cork City Council, after voting unanimously to object the proposed merger, wrote to An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, to inform him that they would be proceeding with a legal challenge against the plan. Quite a significant move, considering such action received widespread cross-party support from across City Council.

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Tense times in Cork City Council (Source: lauramcgonigle.ie)

The people of Cork were then informed that plans would not proceed until after a General Election. Fast forward to now and Cork City and County remain in the dark.

How did we get to this and what implications do the plans have on Cork city? – Lovin Cork investigates!

The Smiddy Committee, led by Alf Smiddy of Cork’s Beamish and Crawford, were tasked to objectively investigate the positives and negatives of a potential merger and released the Smiddy Report in September 2015. Since being published, the Report has caused much controversy, even uniting 18 former Cork City Mayors, from across the political spectrum to take a stand against the plans… If anything, the plan provides opportunity for politicians to co-operate and act proactively!

While it is justifiable to say that such a merger would contribute to preventing what the Report describes as,

“A management structure where the city council is managing only part of the ‘effective city and a county council which is managing a chunk of the ‘effective‘ city and a vast rural area with country towns”

Criticism emerges from the likes of the Centre for Local and Regional Governance, founded this year, who are calling for more open and greater engagement on the plans, between experts and the people of Cork.Considering how long it took to form a Government post-election, let alone proceed with plans, the people of Cork City and County alike will have to wait and see if the last Government’s plans for Cork come into fruition.

The Changing Landscape of Cork City – The Capitol Cinema Site

After much debate over a contentious and sentimental issue for the people of Cork, the Capitol Cinema site redevelopment is well underway and is already changing the landscape of the city. 

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The site before work began, derelict and a shell of its former glory (Source: Cork Past and Present).

The 0.65 acre site, which has been empty for ten years, is getting a €50 million overhaul, which is expected to see 450 new jobs for the city and a 5 storey retail and business complex which according to John Cleary Developments, who bought the site, “Will completely generate the western end of the city.”

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When demolition began – January 2016 (Source: Cork and Present).

However, the site holds many fond memories for the people of Cork and planning for the site was stalled on numerous occasions. Lovin Cork caught up with two people – A Cork native and a Cork adoptee to see what they think of the plans for the historic site.

Understandably, there is concern about demolishing the past, as well as the site itself, but the people of Cork have been reassured that historical buildings surrounding the site will not only be kept, they will also receive restoration, in tandem with the Capitol Cinema site.

The original Capitol Cinema opened its doors in 1947 and had a capacity of 1,300 to entertain the people of Cork with film and performance. Drawing crowds from across the city and county alike, the Capitol Cinema was at one stage, the only multi screen cinema complex outside of Dublin.

The main elements of the site are expected to be complete by the end of this year. Interested businesses and retailers are already in talks about occupying the finished site – Hopefully bringing much needed rejuvenation and life back to the 70 year old landmark of Cork city.

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The site transformed – What Cork can expect when the site is complete (Source: JCD Developments).