Proposals are to be brought to Cabinet to merge Cork City and County Councils, creating a single local authority with an annual budget of more than €500m a year.

However, the five-person review group established to examine the move has split, with two of the group's members favouring an extension of Cork city's boundary’s instead.

Last January, Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly appointed a five-person statutory committee to examine the case for a boundary extension in Cork city, and to consider whether the city and county councils should be merged.

He acknowledged today that the review group had been split but insisted the merger of the councils, recommended by three of the five members, was the best way forward.

Review chairman Alf Smiddy said unanimity among the group was always unlikely.

The Business consultant has backed the report and is supported by Senior Counsel John Lucey and former Kerry County Manager Tom Curran.

A dissenting report by UCC academics Professor Dermot Keogh and Dr Theresa Reidy favours retention of the City and County Council structures with a boundary extension for the city.

The two academics were absent from today's publication of the report