FARMERS on Dursey island have reacted angrily to an offer by Cork County Council to extend the cable car timetable at an hourly cost to them of €125 during the week, and €170 at the weekends.
‘How are farmers who are struggling supposed to pay this on a daily basis?’ Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) asked when the matter was raised at a meeting of the Western Committee.
The issue was recently highlighted in The Southern Star by the chairman of the Dursey Island Development Association, Martin Sheehan, who said the Council’s failure to move to an extended summer schedule on March 1st is now ‘an animal welfare issue’ especially ahead of the calving and lambing season.
But Cork County Council’s Clodagh Henehan strongly defended the local authority’s decision to retain the winter schedule during the Level 5 lockdown, saying the figures reflect ‘the actual cost of the service.
‘This is quite an expensive operation,’ the manager said at the meeting. ‘We are looking at cost recovery … and that is a fair price.’
During the lockdown, she said the cable car is ‘restricted to people who live on, or farm on, the island, and it runs from 9am until 4.30pm, offering 28 departures and 28 returns during the day.’
Compared to other West Cork islands, she said: ‘This is a very good service and it is provided free to the islanders and the farmers.’
She said the Council would ‘review’ the operating hours as the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted and daylight hours increase. ‘There may be a change in April,’ she said, ‘but that is outside my control. In the interim, the service being provided is extensive and very generous to those living and working on the island.’
On the issue of income, she said the Council took a decision in 2018 to employ additional staff and extend the operating hours.
Donal O’Donovan, chairman of West Cork IFA, said the curtailed timetable will be very disruptive for the eight farmers who have over 100 cattle and 500 ewes on the island and said the IFA would be looking for ‘an urgent meeting’ with the Council.