WATERFORD councillors have criticised “dubious reporting and hysteria” as well as “mischievous and unneighbourly” language in relation to the controversial Waterford-Kilkenny boundary review.
At the December plenary meeting of Waterford City & County Council held in Dungarvan last Thursday, ongoing speculation surrounding the boundary review was raised by Cllr John Cummins (FG) who asked if any “official feedback” had been received.
Recent reports in Kilkenny media have claimed that Minister Simon Coveney is likely to recommend the implementation of changes in the review carried out by the Boundary Commission committee.
This would result in Waterford’s boundary extending into South Kilkenny to include areas such as Ferrybank, Slieverue and Milepost.
Kilkenny Fine Gael TD John Paul Phelan, who resides in Ferrybank, has threatened to leave his party if this “land grab” is approved.
“We’ve seen a lot of dubious reporting and hysteria in the Kilkenny media in relation to the issue,” said Cllr Cummins at last week’s meeting.
He asked if this reporting was merely “speculation” or if a decision had actually been made in relation to the boundary.
“I would have thought that we would have been notified prior to the media reporting on it,” he said.
Cllr Mary Roche asked if there was any indication as to what is contained in the report carried out by the Boundary Commission committee.
“It wasn’t just hysteria from the media, it was coming from a certain TD in Kilkenny who is doing either a very good or very bad political job – I can’t quite decide which it is yet but time will tell I suppose,” she said.
Cllr Roche said that “a lot of words had been bandied about” in relation to the deficit of Waterford City & County Council.
Deputy John Paul Phelan has claimed that Waterford is “one of the most indebted local authorities” in Ireland.
Addressing this claim, Cllr Roche stated: “The deficit of Waterford County Council in 2012 prior to the amalgamation was 6.9 million. The deficit of the amalgamated council now stands at 7.9 million. In that light, it is entirely mischievous of Kilkenny media and politicians to use the level of that deficit in order to downgrade Waterford City which is a fantastic city which manages its business very well.”
She described the type of language being used as “very unneighbourly”.
“I ask people to draw back and wait until the report is issued and to wait and see whether or not the Minister is going to make any decision. An awful lot of bad feeling is being stirred up,” she said.
Director of Services Ivan Grimes said the Department had confirmed to him that the report by the Boundary Commission committee had been received by the Minister’s office.
“No decision has been taken yet regarding the publication of the report, but it was pointed out to me that the Athlone boundary review was submitted to the Minister several weeks ago and published shortly after, so we should see the report published shortly,” he said.
Meanwhile, Cllr Blaise Hannigan (Ind) pointed out that city councillors had traditionally met with the six representatives of the Piltown District on a regular basis and asked if this practice would continue.
CEO of Waterford City & County Council Michael Walsh said that the meetings would continue as there had been no indication otherwise.