A COMPLAINT has been made that farmers can’t get to cows calving on Dursey Island after 4.30pm.
Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) raised the issue at a West Cork Municipal District meeting in Bantry, saying the situation is not only causing hardship for farmers, it is also an animal welfare issue.
According to Cllr Collins, ‘this is the first time in 48 years that farmers haven’t been able to travel out to the island between 7 and 8pm to check on their livestock.’
He said it is calving season and farmers are often precluded from travelling to the island by boat because the seas at this time of year are too rough.
The Council’s area engineer, Aidan Prendergast, and a senior executive officer, Mac Dara O h-Icí, confirmed that access to the island via the country’s only cable car has, in fact, increased.
Since the Council took on additional workers to operate the cable car across the Dursey Sound, the service now runs from 9am until 4.30pm, seven days a week, and Mr Prendergast said: ‘It is up to the islanders to utilise these hours.’ Previously, Mr Prendergast pointed out that the cable car ran from 9am until 11am, from 2pm until 5pm, and from 7pm until 8pm, with variations on a Sunday.
There are, however, plans to extend the operating times from March 1st onwards from 9am until 7.30pm.
Mac Dara Ó h-Icí told the councillors that the cable service is operating at a loss at the moment, but he said it could pay for itself in time.
‘Initially,’ said Mr Ó h-Icí, ‘it was put in for the island community, but it has evolved as a tourism project, and we will be looking at the numbers using the service.’ Mr Ó h-Icí suggested that the farmers could access the island by boat; and Mr Prendergast suggested extra hours could be added ‘if someone pays for it.’
Cllr Collins indicated his displeasure with the official response saying: ‘This is the first time this has happened in 48 years. Is it backwards we are going?’