BY JACKIE KEOGH & KIERAN O’MAHONY
SKIBBEREEN and District Chamber of Commerce has told the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport it wants adequate funding to run the town’s Tourist Office.
Chamber administrator, Mary O’Donovan, told the minister that the sum of €10,000 is needed to provide a full-time, fully-serviced tourism office for the greater Skibbereen area.
The administrator, together with local area representatives including Michael Collins (Ind) TD, also complained that Skibbereen and Bantry Tourist Offices are not featured in the Wild Atlantic Way literature provided by Fáilte Ireland and they petitioned to minister to have this rectified as soon as possible.
During his visit to Skibbereen, Minister Ross told The Southern Star he would work to make sure that the West Cork tourism offices are ‘fully recognised’ and, on behalf of the Government and Fáilte Ireland, he thanked the Skibbereen Chamber and the volunteers for running an office which, in 2016, dealt with more than 7,500 tourists enquires six-days a week from mid-March to mid-September.
The minister said: ‘The work they are doing here seems to me to be absolutely fantastic, particularly as it is mostly voluntary work.
‘They are doing a job that in other places is done by well-paid people, who are part of an institution. What we have here is an example of really good volunteerism.’
Meanwhile, a delegation representing various community groups from Ballinspittle met with Minister Ross in Bandon to call for the re-opening of the garda station in the village.
Michael O’Donovan, secretary of Ballinspittle Community Alert, said that local groups have come together to call for the garda station to be re-opened.
‘We lost our garda station four years ago without warning and we would like to get it re-opened again as we are quite a distance from Bandon garda station,’ said Michael. ‘We are the first stop on the WAW route and the R600 goes through the village and we get a huge influx of tourists here during the summer. There is definitely a need for a garda presence in the village.’
‘As well as it being a great source of comfort to the elderly, it would also act as a deterrent to criminals. The building is still there, too, as it hasn’t been sold.’
Deputy Michael Collins (Ind), whose local garda station in Goleen closed at the same time, said the biggest issue is peace of mind for the residents and that it was easy pickings for criminals when there is no garda station. He praised the ‘proactiveness’ of the delegation in looking for the re-opening of the garda station.
Minister Ross said that six garda stations, including Stepaside in Dublin, are earmarked to be re-opened, but that the other five have not been announced yet. ‘My suggestion to you is to write to the Garda Commissioner and plead your case as to why you want your garda station opened.No announcement on the other five stations has been made yet, so there is possibly still time,’ he said.