BOATS are being damaged, livelihoods are being affected, and people’s lives are being put in danger by the huge silt deposits lodged in Ring Harbour.
That’s according Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) and Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) who tabled a motion at a meeting of the West Cork Municipal District that called on Cork County Council to carry out immediate dredging works at Ring Pier.
Cllr Hayes said the issue had been thrashed out at countless Municipal District, County Council and coastal management meetings, but he said the time for talking ‘needs to stop’ because the situation has become ‘dangerous.’
He pointed out that the pier is completely dry at low tide and it is not just commercial businesses that are being affected, but sporting and leisure interests, too.
According to the Sinn Féin councillor a wall – a half tide groyne – was built in 1924 from Inchydoney Island across into the estuary and this helped to divert the tidal flow and ensure the three piers at Ring were kept clear of sand.
In the early 1970s, this wall was breached in a storm, but local families repaired the gap and helped the flow of water back to the piers.
Cllr Hayes said this wall was damaged during another recent storm and needs to be repaired again. But he said that is just ‘a starting point.’
He said he didn’t want to hear any more engineer’s reports because they frequently contradicted one another and meant no actual action was taken.
‘It is the people on the ground who are suffering the consequences of this inaction,’ he said at a meeting in Courtmacsherry, which is yet another coastal village in urgent need of funding for major dredging works.
Former county mayor Declan Hurley (Ind) said this was one issue that should be ‘kept local because if it goes to a full Council meeting we will only get a report’.
Cllr Hayes said the time had come for the Department of Marine or the Office of Public Works to take responsibility for the problem and fix it.
The Southern Star contacted Cork County Council for a comment and the reply stated: ‘Ring Pier is located within Clonakilty Bay, a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA).
‘Cork County Council is currently investigating this matter and has determined that a feasibility study will be required to address the access issues.
‘This study will need to consider the following aspects: hydrographic survey; morphological modelling to ascertain silt and sand movement within the bay; design of a dredging campaign and possible training walls; the need for secure statutory consents: a foreshore lease and possibly planning permission, depending on the extent of the works; and the need for environmental and ecological assessments.
‘Cork County Council is currently considering the costs and budget requirements for this study with a view to pursuing same in the short term.’