Councillors representing South Kilkenny have stressed the need for a rational debate about the Government-appointed Boundary Commission which is investigating the existing North Waterford City/South Kilkenny ‘border’.
However, Piltown District Chairperson Pat Dunphy (FG) said the question of identity was “a big weighting factor” and shouldn’t be taken lightly by the Commission.
“For me, it is the biggest single factor at question here and the Commission needs to know that. This is not primarily about financial matters or a lot of other things, which is how some other people are trying to portray it, but identity is something that matters to people in every county, and not just Kilkenny, who wouldn’t like to see their current status being changed, and I would like to ensure that the Boundary Commission is made aware of that.”
Cllr Tomás Breathnach (Lab) said the timeframe in which the Commission had been asked to undertake its work “was always too short” and that the lack of verified progress to date suggested that “a longer timeline was needed”.
He added: “Most of us here would feel that there is a whole matrix of issues, including financial matters and identity…but my own feeling is that there is little merit in the proposal. But I feel it behoves all of us that if there’s a process there, that we keep to the terms of reference, we answer it in those terms and at the same time, make progress as we are doing with the Waterford Municipal District; it’s something we might also consider reviving with Tipperary, but I feel it is important that we have a regional approach and that such an approach represents a win-win for everybody.”
Cllr Breathnach continued: “This is a south east regional matter, and we need the region progressing together and that to me is a key factor in any future regional strategy.”
Cllr Dunphy queried the pace at which the Boundary Commission was conducting its work. “We’re nearly three months into this process, and according to its Terms of Reference, there’s less than three months to go before they issue a statement or a report – and yet, there’s been no public consultation on this as of yet.”
Speaking on Wednesday, September 2nd, Cllr Dunphy added: “They’re coming here but the public, as of yet, have not had their say on this, and that strikes me as being a bit odd if they’re meant to be halfway through their work.”
The Boundary Commission met with support staff from both Waterford and Kilkenny Councils when it visited the area on Thursday, September 3rd.
The Commission was scheduled to meet with the Kilkenny County Council Executive on Thursday last and is also due to meet with the full Council on Friday, September 25th.
Speaking to this newspaper days before the Commission’s appointment, Minister of State Paudie Coffey said he would be refraining from further comment on the matter while the Commission’s work was ongoing.
In a statement issued on June 16th, Minister Coffey said: “I believe that the decision to establish the review of the boundary is the interests of good planning and sustainable development for Waterford City and its environs.”
The Commission is due to report to the Department of the Environment at the end of November.
The extension which Piltown’s District Councillors have sought to the Commission’s Terms of Reference is currently being considered by the Department of the Environment, the meeting was told.
* A meeting of Waterford’s Metropolitan District and the Piltown Municipal District was held in committee at City Hall on September 2nd; in-committee meetings exclude the media. The media has been free to report on meetings between South Kilkenny Councillors and their colleagues in New Ross in recent years.