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'It's like these two buckos woke up one morning and decided to change a border'

One Fine Gael TD is not happy that the border between Waterford and Kilkenny might be moved.

photo158120965215203261 Alan Kelly and Paudie Coffey Source: RollingNews.ie

A FINE GAEL TD has hit out at two ministers, including one from his own party, over their plan to move the local government boundary between Kilkenny and Waterford.

A boundary commission is currently calling for submissions from the public on the suggested change that involves an area of Waterford city that lies across the River Suir, meaning it is technically on Kilkenny soil.

Similar reviews are taking place in other areas across the country.

Environment Minister Alan Kelly said earlier this year that the review is warranted “given the significant overspill of population… into another county”, the Kilkenny People reports.

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His junior minister, Fine Gael’s Paudie Coffey, said it would be in “the interests of good planning and sustainable development for Waterford City and its environs”.

A change to the boundary was previously suggested 10 years ago, but was scrapped due to public opposition.

Now Carlow-Kilkenny Fine Gael TD John Paul Phelan, who lives just 200 yards from the existing boundary, is calling for a repeat of this. He said a boundary change would “miss the point”.

fg varadkar 3036 90182832 Source: Laura Hutton/RollingNews.ie

“This really wasn’t an issue,” Phelan told TheJournal.ie. 

These two buckos launched this out of the absolute blue.

“There was no conversation. This literally dropped out of thin air. It was like Alan Kelly and Paudie Coffey woke up one morning and decided what they would do.”

He questioned whether the same process will have to be undertaken in another ten years when the urban area grows, saying a system of local government that takes into account factors like this is needed.

“Once you move a line, where do you stop?”

I just don’t see the logic. There’s a lot of things in the Department of the Environment that need resolving.

‘Cynical opportunism’

In a strongly-worded statement issued earlier today, the TD said the boundary wasn’t a slight on the people of Waterford, but described it as “cynical opportunism” by the two ministers.

“The people of this constituency stopped Eirgrid’s high-powered pylon plan because they saw reason, they made their case, and they buried them in a mountain of paperwork. The same needs to happen now on this critical issue. The proposed change is in nobody’s interest and it must be stopped.”

If this boundary change is made, Kilkenny will lose the Port of Waterford; 5,000 people’s identities will be changed with the stroke of a pen and Kilkenny will lose between €10m and €15 out of an annual budget of €67m.

Neither Kelly nor Coffey responded to requests for comment at the time of publication.

In explaining the rationale for the change in June, Coffey highlighted that the area would include Waterford City’s North Quays, a “strategic site”, with the landmark flour mills due to be demolished, making way for a railway line extension, a new pedestrian bridge across the Suir, along with new office blocks and a multi-story car park.

Read: Are we about to see an exodus of TDs from Fine Gael? >

More: Alex Salmond told us why a united Ireland is as inevitable as Scottish independence >

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Nicky Ryan

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