BY JACKIE KEOGH
The silting of Courtmacsherry harbour over the last six months has become problematic for the local lifeboat service.
Sinn Féin Cllr Paul Hayes raised the issue as a matter of urgency at a meeting of the Western Committee of Cork County Council on Monday saying: ‘The silting of the harbour is a major cause of concern for the local lifeboat crew.’ Cllr Hayes said he was aware that Council officials had met with RNLI and community representatives within the last two months, but he said the problem is getting worse.
Courtmacsherry RNLI coxswain, Sean O’Farrell, who is also treasurer of the Courtmacsherry Harbour Management Committee, confirmed that the problem has become acute in the last six months because the last ten, or more, storms has led to a huge volume of water running of the land and carrying with it silt that has been deposited in the harbour area from Timoleague to Wood Point.
‘One of our main concerns,’ according to Mr O’Farrell, ‘is that the entrance to the harbour is silting and this is restricting access and egress. We are also worried that the area at one side of the pontoon – which is used by the lifeboat service for refuelling and the disembarkation of casualties – is now dry at low water on spring tides.
‘The Council said it would take our concerns into consideration, but unfortunately the wheels turn slowly because in all harbours it is not just one entity that is involved. The Council, the Department of Marine, and the Department of Environment all have a say in what happens.’
Mr O’Farrell appealed to these organisations to ‘take swift action because we are a frontline emergency service. If it was a case that bad roads were preventing a fire brigade or ambulance from responding it would be quickly dealt with.’
Mr O’Farrell also pointed out that Courtmacsherry is a tourist village. ‘We have no other means of making money in this village and the silt is restricting visiting boats from accessing Courtmacsherry and they are a major part of our tourist industry.’
Last Saturday – just as Ireland kicked off their Euro 2016 match with Belgium at 2pm – Courtmacsherry lifeboat crew had to put to sea to answer a mayday distress call from a vessel.
The lifeboat, under second coxswain Mark Gannon and with a crew of six, went to the aid of the 36-foot boat, which was in danger of going on to rocks at Dunworley Point, and towed it to safety.