Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has called for Cork City to rebrand itself as Ireland’s Southern Capital and lose such words as Ireland’s Second City- noting such terms as outdated and downgrading the city’s ambition. In this week’s debate with the City-County Expansion/ Merger advisory group under Jim MacKinnon, Cllr McCarthy cited his experience as a member of the EU Committee of the Regions to note that second tier cities within the EU, more than ever, are making their mark in the macro picture. He noted that Cork City should not be relegated to just a municipal district but should be scaled up to be an Atlantic Maritime City of Innovation. Commenting Cllr McCarthy; “This city has an obsession with looking towards Dublin but misses the opportunity to reconnect with cities in the Atlantic Maritime Region, where historically it traded with and had vast partnerships with. Cork punches way above its weight and is known by many European Commission officials who have visited Cork and the region on business and in a personal capacity as a holiday visitor. Small cities across Europe are tweaking, rebranding and repositioning themselves strategically in a very competitive European and global market of commerce. One gets to see that it is not a time for second tier cities to stay still or be diluted but an exciting time to explore their assets and to scale-up. There is a need to create a stronger narrative for Cork City and to scale up and reposition and capture its energy and expertise – not only as a strategic gateway in the south of Ireland but also in north west Europe”.
Continuing Cllr McCarthy commented; “Cities, large and small, in the European Union are now more than ever before, the powerhouses of economic growth, innovation and employment opportunities. Cities are facing ever greater social challenges in respect of the environment, transport and social cohesion. The Urban Agenda for the EU aims to address those challenges”.
“Vast sums of European structural funds are now being invested in cities and the public interest– to address poverty, housing, innovation, waste management, climate change measures; urban mobility. Much of Cork City’s key infrastructure, the last twenty years, has been for a large part funded by the EU – our new streetscapes, waste management, transport mobility, mechanisms and our larger public parks and amenities. We secure funds because we are an ambitious and strategic city with a vision for its future within a bigger picture – however whilst saying this we cannot secure large scale funding to provide ambitious housing and transport networks without enlarging the city’s boundaries and population. We cannot become part of eminent European urban projects such as Eurocities without have a population capacity of c.250,000”.
Cllr McCarthy stressed that in the macro picture, bigger cities are seen as stronger mechanisms that have population capacity, which can create better funding models: cross-sectoral financial instruments; they can simplify use of funds, and combine funds to more possibilities– the larger the city the more funding its attracts. “The potential for the future of Cork city is enormous. It has the potential to be a really important player in the development of this country but also a trusted player in the Atlantic Region of the European Union. Such ambition should not be thrown onto the fire of efficiency but should be allowed grow with the proper and most effective framework in place”.