“I felt a lump in my throat when I heard the Minister speak on the radio!” So said Mayor Noel O’Connor following the news that Mallow Town Council will be abolished at the end of its current term, as part of a countrywide shake-up of local government. The Town Council will be replaced by a municipal council covering the county, not just Mallow.

Mayor O’Connor said he was very disappointed to hear the news, as Mallow runs its affairs in a very prudent manner, and he added that the biggest fight ahead was to retain Mallow’s business rate, which is significantly lower than the Co Council rate, and is in fact the lowest town rate in Co. Cork. “Derogation is needed, and it’s not fair that the people of Mallow should have an increase in the business rate,” he said.

Cllr Jerry Mullally described the news as bad for local democracy, and he feared for the jobs of local council employees, and also for businesses which could face a rates hike. “Over 30 premises are idle in Mallow at the moment, and higher rates could result in even more closures,” he said. The councillor said that Mallow Town Council runs a tight ship and balances its books every year, and its abolition would be a big loss to the town. “There’s nothing like dealing with local people, and I’m concerned for local businesses, the council workforce, and social housing tenants who could find their rents changed,” he said.

Cllr Ronan Sheehan said that while he agreed reform was needed, it was hard to know if cutting the number of councils was a solution. He also expressed fears about the business rate, saying he couldn’t imagine the Co. Council rate reducing to Mallow’s level. “The Town Council is as efficient, if not more so, than the County Council, and it’s sad and disappointing to see it being abolished,” he said, adding that at present a business person paying €590 in rates in the town would have to pay €740 in the county. “I’m worried rates will go up,” he said.

Under Minister Phil Hogan’s plan. Mallow will be part of a municipal district, comprising at least 5 councillors, and salary payments will be much reduced, while a special body will have to approve travel to any conference. Also councillors will lose the power to overturn planning decisions by officials, and meeting times will be changed to allow more women with children to become councillors. The new property tax will be used to fund local authorities, and in time councils will be allowed to set their own rate of tax. The new system will come into being in 2014 when the current council terms will come to an end.

Mallow Urban District was set up on April 1st 1902, and its first Chairman was J.J. Fitzgerald, who is commemorated with a monument at the end of O’Brien Street.