Notes from a full meeting of Cork County Council, 26th Jan 2015

Cllr R McCarthy and Cllr K McCarthy asked for suspension of Standing Orders because of:

1)     the delay in the Bandon sewerage scheme
2)     Irish Water as a company not looking after the water and sewerage needs of the people of Cobh.

respectively.  It was agreed that Standing Orders would be suspended at 1pm.


1.  Minutes of Meeting of the Council held on 12th January, 2015.

Proposed and seconded.


[b]           VOTES OF SYMPATHY
2.              Votes of Sympathy (if any) to the relatives of:

(i)             members or employees of the Council,
(ii)           dignitaries of Church or State, or
(iii)          members of old I.R.A. and Cumann na mBan.

There were no votes of sympathy passed.


3.              Presentation on the Abolishment of the Dairy Quota and the Opportunities for Cork – Presentation by Dr. Declan O Connor and Dr. Michael Keane.

This was work which Cork County Council commissioned.  Speakers are from the CIT.  They worked closely with the Executive in preparing the report and in particular with Tom Stritch (roads) .  The study was co-ordinated by James Fogarty (West Cork Manager).

Declan O’Connor gave the presentation.

This will be an important growth area in Cork in the next 5 years.

  • Milk quotas will be eliminated from April 2015.
  • We expect that Cork, which is an ideal place to produce milk, will be able to increase its dairy production substantially.
  • We produce > 1.4 billion litres of milk p.a. in the county, i.e. 25% of the milk produced in the country.
  • Cork has 4,500 highly skilled dairy farmers.  The county has very innovative dairy processes.  We have the likes of Dairygold and Carbery.  Also have leading R&D in Teagasc, UCC, CIT, etc.
  • We expect milk output to increase by 50%.  We expect dairy cows to increase from 306,000 to 400,000. (+94,000).
  • Investment commitments to achieve this – +€450m to farming and more to commercial side.
  • If we meet this target, it will create an additional 4,000 jobs with a net benefit to the exechequer of about €100m.
  • Constraints and threats – land scarcity, skilled labour, capital, herd health and fertility, weather, climate change, income, price volatility, EU policy, water quality, environment, GHG emissions.
  • All these constraints are manageable and are addressed in the report.
  • Infrastructural issues feedback from the industry were roads, water, GHG, energy, planning and commmunications (including broadband)
  • Highlighting the roads issue to the councillors.  The targets for extra milk production would mean an extra 1,000 milk lorries on the roads per week.  Also have to consider the implications of getting the dairy commodity back to the port for export.  There will be much more feed and fertiliser used.  Farm to farm transport will change dramatically.  More farmers will rent land away from the milking platform.  So they will be moving silage and slurry.  Contractors are going to be busier.  Everyone from the industry that was spoken to mentioned roads.  Turning areas not adequate for milk tankers, bridges, gullies, verges, blind bends, etc.  The targets for the industry would mean an estimated additional road maintenance cost of at least €4.2m to 2020 and €1.5m p.a. thereafter.  (Cost calculated by CIT.)
  • Each litre of milk requires 6 litres of water to produce.  Many farms have their own water but they also need a backup because water is so important.  Therefore water supply is crucial.
  • To consolidate this opportunity, we need everyone to roll in the same direction.  But we have to be aware of the infrastructural restrictions because these are real threats.  Have to help farmers through the nitrates legislation.
  • The prize would be Cork as a world dairy hub in 2020.

Cllr PG Murphy (FF):  If we haven’t quantiifed the restrictions and barriers we would not be in a position to seek support from national and local sources.  This was expressed as a concern in the Western Division.  Constraints need to be tackled one by one.

Cllr O’Flynn (FF):  Very exciting report and times for the dairy industry.  Road network is clearly our biggest constraint.  Mitchelstown to Mallow road at the moment can’t allow two lorries to pass at present.  Also Mallow badly needs a ring road.  Future development of Munster depends on the infrastructure around Mallow.  We will have to go to the Minister to ensure our road network is brought up to scratch.  Broadband also hugely important.  People coming to Mallow, Mitchelstown and Moorepark have nowhere to stay.  They want to live here and get involved in the local community.  But there are no houses available to either buy or rent.  The world is our market.  Hopes Cork County Council will not be found wanting.

Cllr Mary Hegarty (FG):  This is a follow up to a motion which she had at Council last year.  Compliments James Fogarty (divisional manager) on work he has done with the CIT.

Cllr K Murphy (FG):  Fabulous report.

Cllr Hayes (SF):  Report highlights our potential to go back to what we are good at – agriculture.  Highlights infrastructural deficiencies.  Great potential for the area.

Cllr A Moynihan (FF):  Very exciting time.  Cork always had a very strong connection with the dairy industry – butter exports – butter roads.  There is definitely a huge problem at the local road network level.  If there was a butter road network years ago, there is surely a need for a milk road network now.  We need to keep a focus on the need for a local road scheme to support tankers.  It won’t be happening on every local road.  We need to target the Departments – both Environment and Agriculture – for a milk road scheme.

Cllr Carroll (FF):  Thanks for report.  Roads in West Cork simply cannot support this plan, despite the fact that the plan is so welcome.  Roads aren’t fit to take Coillte trucks either.

Cllr N O’Donovan (FG):  Great to have the facts and figures.  Roads are in dire straits and something needs to be done.  Agriculture is the back bone of our economy.  Needs to be up there again.  Community involvement scheme was a major loss to West Cork.

Cllr Harris (Ind):  EU policy as an obstacle was glossed over.  Not confident that this will be easily managed.  What guarantees are there for people investing in this industry that EU policy will not wipe people out?

Cllr G Murphy (FG):  Glad to see this project initiated.  Infrastructural problems are county-wide.  We haven’t had funding for local improvement schemes for many years.  There are isolated farms with capacity to produce a lot of milk which creameries have said they will not serve into the future because of the road condition.  Report is great but it is what we do with this report is most important.  Lay down a timescale with the government for implementing this.  This government attaches huge importance to job creation so this dovetails with their agenda.

Cllr D’Alton (Ind):  My side of the cow is usually the tail end – my area of expertise was the slurry side of things.  Cows produce slurry and more cows means more slurry.  I have done much nutrient management planning in North Cork and I know that while the land has some nutritional imbalances, these are much easier to address more accurately with inorganic fertiliser.  At the moment, farmers have no option but to get rid of slurry by spreading it on the fields.  The land simply doesn’t have the capacity to absorb more without polluting rivers and other watercourses.  Welcomes the report but would also welcome concurrently researching whether it would be possible to establish a facility to assist farmers in slurry management.  Such a facility might be a centralised biogas plant, maybe drying.  But it is something that needs to be addressed alongside further intensification of the dairy industry.

Cllr T Collins (Ind):  If the contractors can’t get around, it makes things very difficult.  When hedges are meeting, the lorry cannot pass.  A mirror costs €800 to replace.  Now you meet limbs of trees, not hedges.  If a lorry is incapacitated, the milk already collected is left lying there because another lorry will have to come on stream to replace it.  Contractor is a very important person in this.  This report is welcome but there are some areas where roads that were built can’t cope with half the tonnage they are taking now.

Cllr B Moynihan (FF):  Needs to be a local improvement scheme for roads.  To enable all this to happen by 2020, there needs to be investment in the road structure.  People are quite willing to contribute to the council for the local improvement scheme.

Cllr Lombard (FG):  We’re 9 weeks away from the end of the quota period.  Next 18 months there will be 20% increase in milk volume.  Farmers and co-ops have been building to this for years.  Stock, herds and most of the infrastructure is already in place.  Is this report too late?  Should this have been commissioned 3 years ago?

Cllr Barry (FG):  Road issues well flagged.  Environment issues have been touched on.

CE:  We are the only local authority in the country who has done a detailed assessment of this issue.  Time to put this report into the right forum nationally, especially when it highlights the need for investment in certain areas.  Report well researched and robust.  This sector will create massive jobs and the investment required to support that is relatively small.  The issue with water is for Irish Water to deal with, with the County Council being an advocate of the sector.  We will be putting the investment into roads.

Michael Keane (MJKeane Agribusiness Research Services – – 087 2704586):

Councillors have rightly focused on roads as being the weak link in this plan.  There is a huge demand on the road network and it does require additional investment.  Wishes us all success in seeking the funds for that.

Couple of other comments in passing – Declan has a student doing a much bigger study which will be available in September.

Cllr Moynihan mentioned the fact that there are farmers facing superlevy bills.  There are schemes to help these farmers out.

EU policy at Brussels level is a very important point.  There are countries within the EU who have tried to stop the cessation of quotas.  Declan and he did a study on this before (2013) – were in Brussels for it.  Most EU Member States are in favour of quotas going but there are those who are not and this space needs to be watched carefully.

Issue of biogas and slurry very important.  Has taken off as a successful industry in other countries, but not so much here.  Worth investigating and advancing.

GHG – we produce milk outdoors, which has a far lower carbon footprint than producing milk indoors.

Planning – farmers speak of the narrow window of opportunity they have to get everything ready and done.  Want help from CCC where possible.

Massive feeling on the ground amongst farmers on the roads issue.

Declan O’Connor: James and Tom were a year ahead in the commissioning of this report.  They approached CIT last May.  Thanks all the contributors to the report, especially Michael who co-produced it in a 50:50 way, and all those who gave their time across the entire industry. – 087-6151284



4.              Disposal of Property – Section 183 of the Local Government Act, 2001:
Disposal of 14 Spa Terrace, Mallow, Co. Cork.

Cllr Mullane (SF):  Has no issue with this disposal.  The property is in shared ownership.  But the disposal did not come to the Northern Committee.  Just wondering what procedure is.

SOC:  The procedure is in the middle of changing.  Not sure why this one didn’t go to the Municipal District or Divisional Committee.  In some cases, especially in the issue of shared ownership, we’re under pressure to finalise for the client’s solicitor.  Maybe this is why.

5.              Local Government Act 2001 as amended by the Local Government Reform Act 2014 & the Local Government (Audit Committee) Regulations 2014:

Audit Committee Work Programme 2015

“In accordance with Section 9 of the Local Government (Audit Committee) Regulations the Annual Work Programme for 2015 for the Audit Committee is hereby adopted by Cork County Council.”

6.  Section 60 of the Local Government Reform Act 2014:
Report of the Audit Committee on its review of the Local Government Auditor’s Report for 2013.

Taking 5 and 6 together.  Both agreed.


7.  Local Government Act 2001:
Section 85 Agreement with Tipperary County Council – Control of Horses Act, 1996.

Agreed for renewal.


8.  Appointment of Members to the National Monuments Committee:

The Corporate Policy Group has decided that the Committee would have 8 members, 1 from each Municipal District.

Proposals were made from each party grouping for membership.  All were agreed.


9.              Corporate Policy Group:

(i)  Approval of attendance by Council members at Conferences on the Conference List for January, 2015 approved by the Corporate Policy Group at their meeting on the 14th January, 2015.

(ii)  To notify Members of the Municipal District Community Grants Schemes 2015.

Both we agreed. 

Mayor:  The proposal is that Municipal District Officers will advertise these grant schemes as soon as possible.  It is a good opportunity for Municipal District Officers to become visible in their districts.

Cllr R McCarthy (SF):  Is concerned that the grant application forms would be available as soon as possible because many groups require St Patrick’s Day funding.

SOC:  The intention was always to advertise as soon as possible.  Its up to the Municipal Districts to advertise.  The application forms will be on the website on Friday.

Cllr Conway (Ind):  There was tacit approval made at the Blarney-Macroom Municipal District meeting to fund Patrick’s Day either through this process  or otherwise.

Cllr K Murphy (FG):  Thinks it should be clear that no expenditure of any kind should be approved unless accompanied by an application form.

Cllr Conway (Ind):  Cllr Murphy is in the business long enough to know that an application form will be filled out for all funding that might be required.


10.            Ballincollig Carrigaline Municipal District:
“That this Council rejects the Minister’s Notice of Intent to Issue a Direction received by Cork County Council on 22nd December 2014 in relation to Objective ZU3-7 and resolves to uphold the previous decision of Cork County Council as agreed at its meeting of 8th December 2014 in retaining the original agreed wording of the Objective.”

Cllr Desmond (FF):  We discussed this at our Municipal District meeting last week.  We agreed that to comply with the process we have to put forward a proposal again today.  We have already voted on this.  There was cross party support.  Democratically the County Development Plan is one of the main pieces of work that is left to the Council.  So we believe we should take a stand.

Cllr G Murphy (FG):  Point of order – legal situation is that we have no power to overturn.  Is that correct?

Mayor:  We can make a submission up to Wednesday.

Cllr K Murphy (FG):  Asks that CE would make a statement at this stage.

CE:  Has no statement to make.  It is out for public consultation until the 28th of this month.  Reads the draft Direction in relation to consultation.  Members can make a submission if they wish.

Cllr McGrath (FF):  Don’t want to redebate the issue.  Essence of this is the disregard for the democratic decision of the members.  The Minister is exhibiting unnecessary interference in the democratic process.  Public consultation is adding insult to injury.

Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF):  Affront to democracy.

Agreed to send a submission to the Minister supporting the Members’ original vote.



11.  Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government:
Letter dated 6th January, 2015, in response to Council’s letter of 26th November, 2014, regarding increasing rent supplement levels and issue of homelessness.

Cllr O’Grady (SF):  About 20% of households in the state are living in the private rental sector.  The rent cap does not reflect reality.  Asks that the allowance would be increased and that there would be a rent cap to freeze the private rental market.  Lists out the disadvantages of a rent freeze that the Department’s letter describes.  But we have all these problems already.  The PRTB did this report.  A Red C poll found that 64% of tenants were aware of their rights.  That is good.  Thinks the education programme is a good idea.  People from 64% that do know their rights are still being made homeless.  Thinks the report is not up to the mark.  Need to write back to the Department telling them what the reality is on the ground.  This crisis is getting worse.


12.            Department of Justice and Equality:
Letter dated 20th January, 2015, in response to Council’s letter of 13th January, 2015, regarding the provision of a juvenile hostel in Cork.

Cllr N Collins (Ind):  Reply from the Department is infuriating.  The letter says we don’t know what we are talking about.  But we are dealing with this problem on a daily basis in the Cork region.  There was a top class facility in Spike Island.  It was closed.  The Lusk facility keeps getting funding.

(I had to leave the meeting to take a phone call.)


[f]            NOTICES OF MOTION

13.            Councillor Tim Lombard:
“To ask the Council to clarify the water quality in Fountainstown Strand and state what measures they are taking to ensure that the beach will be open for bathing in 2015.”

Cllr Lombard (FG):  Small businesses will close because of this.  Is a big issue and we need to get clarity on it today.  We need to ensure that people can be confident of their use of the beach throughout the summer.

Cllr McGrath (FF):  Supports and seconds the motion.  Any suggestion of a closure of Fountainstown beach has implications.  Is vitally important for recreation and local economy.  We need to be as clear as we can early in the year.

Cllr Murphy-O’Mahony (FF) and Cllr K Murphy (FG) also spoke in favour.

CE:  Assessment to date is that Fountainstown is satisfactory for bathing and compliant.  As of now, there isn’t any issue with regard to it.  Will be kept under review.  Programme starts on June 1.  Ends September 15.  Results in Fountainstown are submitted to the EPA and will be assessed in conjunction with historical data.


Suspension of standing orders:

Cllr R McCarthy (SF):  The people of Bandon have waited for Bandon flood relief scheme for so long.  The sewerage scheme was to have separate systems for surface and foul water.  Irish Water has now decided that they will do a combined system.  Irish Water has said it will not accommodate new developments.  While she was on the Town Council for Bandon she remembers the various announcements that were made in relation to the schemes.  Has called for resurfacing of Bandon immediately.  It hasn’t been done for 2 years because we have been waiting for main drainage.  Has no confidence that it will be start.  Both schemes have been delayed.  Upsetting for everyone in the town.  Hope to meet with the Minister for the Environment to discuss.  Highlights the control that Irish Water has on development.  Will have serious consequences going forward for new developments across the country.  Hopes it can be resolved for Bandon straight away.

Cllr Murphy O’Mahony (FF):  Supports and seconds the motion.  Highights the plight of the people of Bandon.  They are being held to ransom with regard to any work done in the town.  Not good enough.  Traders of the town cannot sleep in nights of heavy rain in case there is another flood.  Calls on the Council to do anything possible to ensure both the schemes go ahead as quickly as possible.

Cllr J O’Donovan (FG):  Was a big shock to us all when we got the news.  Nothing can be done in the town until this goes ahead.  Also fears for the rest of the county.  The combined system approach may have a knock on effect throughout the county.  Surfacing in the town is desperate in some places.  Even a temporary job needs to be done to address this.

Cllr K Murphy (FG):  Unacceptable that Irish Water would hold up any future development in this way.  When will the scheme start?  One member of the Council drove through the town over the weekend and burst a tyre.

Cllr Lombard (FG):  Supports.  How is this issue going to be dealt with going forward?

County Engineer:  Irish Water has done a cost benefit analysis on the scheme in Bandon and they say it is not cost beneficial to separate the existing combined sewer.  So they will treat it at the treatment plant rather than separate.  It has raised its head only in Bandon but it is a national issue. Maybe the clinics should be used to discuss this with Irish Water.  Was told in August 2014 that works were to start in March 2015.  Now Irish Water is saying they will start in Q3 2015.

Cllr R McCarthy (SF):  Will the County Council be funding the separation of the scheme in lieu of Irish Water?

CE:  Yes, are thinking of it.  But if this arises in every other scheme, the County Council can’t afford it.    This is a matter that should be dealt with at a national level.  The Department needs to be involved.  It is not that we’re sitting back – the engineer is talking to Irish Water again this evening.  We may not be able to influence the flood issue because it is tied up in legal issues at present.  All we can do is press as hard as we can.

Cllr R McCarthy (SF):  Why can Irish Water not honour the commitment in the original plans?

County Engineer:  Tends to agree but they have said that they will review any scheme or reserve the right to redesign.  In the case of any pre-2014 planning permissions, they said they would honour those.


14.            Councillor Kieran McCarthy:
“This Council calls on the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys to recognise and act on her responsibility as Heritage Minister to protect and preserve the historic Moore Street area of Dublin City, including the terrace 10-25 Moore Street which was occupied by the Volunteers at the end of Easter Week 1916 and where the final meeting of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic took place. This requires the preservation not only of the National Monument 14-17 Moore Street but the protection of the terrace and of the integrity of the surrounding area which has been described as ‘the lanes of history’ and which has the potential to be sensitively developed as an historic quarter of our capital city, enhancing the living market trading tradition and bringing to life the area’s central role in the 1916 Rising.”

The motion was seconded by Cllr N Collins (Ind) who is from Dublin and spoke briefly and positively about the character and historical association of Moore Street.


15.            Councillor Michael Collins:
“I call on HSE to reverse the cuts to home help hours which were put in place over the past couple of years.  Many people who are receiving home help have been cut in the region of 50%.  Older people have a preference to live independently in their own homes for as long as possible but these cuts are making it impossible to do so. The end result of this is that our Community Hospitals and Nursing homes are full to capacity with a result that older people cannot be discharged from our acute Hospitals resulting in people remaining on trollies in our over crowded A&E Department.”

Cllr Murphy O’Mahony (FF):  Supports.  Any cut in home help hours is false economy.  In her area, the home help suppliers had to tell the old people of the cuts.  HSE offices did not even do this.  Many home help people are under pressure.  They are doing the other hour free to avoid friction with the client.

Cllr Conway (Ind):  Half an hour allocated to individuals in some cases.  Many of these home helps are working three times that amount of time.  Until all these agencies start working in tandem, we will never get rid of the trolleys.  Elderly are afraid to leave hospitals because they don’t know what to expect when hey get home.  Many of us are in the situation where we have dealt directly with home help for the sake of elderly relatives.  We know how difficult it is to work this.

Cllr R Murphy (SF):  SF had a motion in the Dail previously on this issue.  600,000 home help hours have been cut.  €10m has been cut from the disabled.  These are savage cuts on the most vulnerable in society.

Cllr D’Alton (Ind):  Cannot support this motion strongly enough.  Old people have worked all their lives, paid taxes all their lives.  Then they are abandoned by the government at the time when they need support the most.  Anyone who has tried to deal with the home help office would know this is something old people could not do on their own.  Not merely have the hours been cut, but the duties the home helps can do have been severely limited.  They can no longer make a cup of tea, wash a cup after a cup of tea, make porridge.  They are limited to personal care only – getting out of bed, washing, dressing.  This upsets the home helps as much as the clients.  Limiting home help is incredibly short-sighted on the part of the government because it clogs everything downstream.  In any event, this county has signed up to the County Age-Friendly Strategy, so it is encumbent on us to support this motion.

Cllr Doyle (FF):  Need to increase training for home helps also.  FETAC level 5 courses into college that is closing.  Would ease so many downstream problems.  Also spoke of the County Strategy so it is our duty to support this.

Cllr K Murphy (FG):  People would have the dignity to dress and undress – allowing 30 minutes for this duty of care seems to be lost by HSE.  The elderly need time.  Must meet the HSE face to face.

Cllr M Collins (Ind):  Thinking of Cllr D’Alton’s word – abandoned.  The elderly are being abandoned.  Knows home helps are delivering, but they’re doing it on a voluntary capacity.  Would be delighted if the HSE executive would come here to answer our questions.  But this is a fight that has been ignored for the last two years.  Minister Varadkar can shove beds into overcrowded rooms all he likes but he will enver solve the problem unless he solves it at source – in the home where people want to stay.


16.            Councillor Seamus McGrath:
“To request a written update on the Council’s plan regarding the ‘ Taking in Charge ‘ of a new round of residential estates.”

Link to Executive’s response to the motion: Response to McGrath’s motion

I left the meeting at this point and it was adjourned 10 minutes later.


17.            Councillor Noel Collins:
“That this Council request the Minister for Finance to amend the Valuation Act, 2001, to allow the business community to improve their premises, without excess increases in valuation.” 


18.            Councillor Margaret Murphy-O’Mahony:
That this Council writes to Bus Eireann to ascertain through which county towns their specially adapted buses pass through and on obtaining this information that we ensure that each of these towns has an adapted bus stop area.” 


19.            Councillor Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire:
“That in light of the significant lack of Housing available to low and middle income earners, Cork County Council agrees to explore the establishment of an Arms Length Housing Trust.” 


20.           Councillor Des O’Grady:
“To request a written report on the separate bank account held by Cork County Council to hold any monies accruing to the Council from the sale of dwellings. This report to list the amount of money currently held in this account, the amount held on 1st January 2014 and the separate amounts used for the provision of housing, the refurbishment /maintenance of existing housing, or any other related purpose during 2014.”



21.            Liadh Ní Riada, MEP:
Letter dated 12th January, 2015, in response to Council’s letter of 26th November, 2014, regarding the fluoridation of water.


22.            VOTES OF CONGRATULATIONS (if any)


23.            ANY OTHER BUSINESS