BY PADDY MULCHRONE
COUNCIL chiefs closed down a popular seaside takeaway business on Schull Pier, threatening the operators with court action if they didn't move â but a local Church has come to the rescue.
Schull's Holy Trinity Church took pity on Nico and Holly Runske, offering them sanctuary on church grounds, just yards away, with a spectacular harbour view so the food truck can stay open.
Now the pair are doing all they can to return to their pier-side pitch. Over 600 people have already signed an online petition to the Council, pleading for their return, and nearly 1,000 people have âliked' their Nico's Street Kitchen Facebook protest.
Chef Nico, 25, and Holly, 42, both admit they are upset and frustrated by the setback, but also overwhelmed by the extraordinary support from the community.
Mother-of-three Holly says she cried when the Rev Canon Trevor Lester said they could trade over the Church's garden fence, so they could stay in business â at least temporarily. It meant they were closed for only a few days.
Nico said they did all they could to trade legally and were previously told that no bye-laws applied to street trading in Schull, so believed they were within the law.
âWe had been trading happily for months when we received this letter at the height of the season, and our busiest period. We were both shocked,' he told The Southern Star.
The duo deny causing any safety or nuisance issues during their time at the pier.
âWe have been overwhelmed by local support and are so grateful to the Church. But we want to do all we can to get back to where we belong â and legally so.
âThe holiday season is so short, we are appealing for a swift outcome, if possible.'
As Nico spoke over the fence from his trailer kitchen's temporary home, passers-by stopped to welcome him back and wish him well for the future. Among the well-wishers was the truck's saviour and temporary landlord, Canon Trevor Lester.
Canon Lester said: âThe Church is here to help and I'm glad we are in a position to be able to do so. I wish them well for a swift and satisfactory resolution.'
Cork County Council said that street trading bye-laws already exist for Bantry and drafts for the entire county are being enacted.Â
Submissions have been received and are being appealed to the District Court. The process will take time because of the court process.
A spokesman added: âIn Schull there was a trader operating on the pier, which is a busy working pier and Cork County Council had concerns in relation to the safety of pier users because of the operation.
âCork County Council was obliged to take action where we had concerns and required the operator to move from the location on the pier.'