Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government Alan Kelly has defended the proposed merger of Cork City and Cork County local authorities.

Speaking during Topical Issues in the Dáil, Mr Kelly said he agreed with a report in favour of the unified authority.

He said the report stated that retaining the status quo was not an option.

Mr Kelly said he would make a submission to the Government in light of the report.

The matter was raised by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Sinn Féin's Jonathan O'Brien.

Mr Martin said the idea you would get better results out of a unified authority was a myth, pointing to the existing volume of foreign direct investment.

Mr O'Brien said there was no evidence to support the assertion the merger would improve investment.

There were sharp exchanges between the deputies and Minister Kelly over the issue.

Mr Kelly said the proposals in the report were in the best interests of Cork.

He said the report said that doing nothing was the worst option of all.

Meanwhile, Cork City Council has voted unanimously to instruct its Chief Executive to seek a judicial review of the Government's plans to merge it with Cork County Council.

The vote was taken at a special meeting held after midnight.

All 29 councillors present voted in favour of the legal challenge. Two councillors were absent.

The special meeting was held at 12.01am today for two reasons, firstly the council is obliged to give seven days notice of moving a Section 140 motion, which they did on 14 September last.  

Secondly, they wanted the Taoiseach to be aware of their decision before he headed into today's Cabinet meeting.

Lord Mayor Councillor Chris O'Leary said the council was left with no other option and the vote sends a resounding confirmation of Cork City Council's position.

Chief Executive Ann Doherty will now seek a judicial review in the High Court of the actions of the Cork Local Government Review group (CLGR), which published its city and county council merger recommendations two weeks ago.

The CLGR was divided three to two in favour of the merger. 

Speaking to the Evening Echo after this morning's meeting, Ms Doherty said the members have voted, and she will move forward accordingly.

The Local Authority Members Association has drafted a motion supporting Cork City Council's legal challenge.

So far, 12 local authorities have agreed to debate the resolution next month.

The first will be Cork County Council, where Sinn Féin will table the motion next week.