‘STATIO Bene Fida Carinis,’ the old-timers used say about Cork Harbour. A safe harbour for ships. Not anymore! And the Dubs are to blame!
The Port of Dublin has decided to introduce an accelerated reduction in the number of cruise liners that berth in Dublin: 160 will arrive this year, but by 2021 that number will have been slashed to 80. The reasoning behind the decision? Brexit and the need for increased container traffic capacity when the UK leaves the EU.
Making matters worse is the endorsement of the Dublin Port decision by Ireland’s controversial Transport and Tourism Minister, Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross. He showed no reluctance in promoting a particularised concern for the local parish pump and agreeing that cruise berths would have to be limited in the wake of Brexit.
But, at the same time, Lord Ross explained that what was happening was nothing more than ‘a temporary blip,’ jauntily predicting that within five years cruise liner calls would return to the 150-ship level.
What’s more, he cryptically referred to ‘other ports’ benefitting from the crisis and that Cobh would continue as a dedicated port. The Plain People of Ireland, who hadn’t a bulls notion as to what the man was talking about, chuckled at the Tourism Minister’s unrestrained confidence in his abilities and in his judgement when guiding the country through Brexit-stormy seas.
Dublin rules OK?
But, in the background, Dublin Port officials were more realistic about the future and about the way the €50m cruise-liner industry depended on Dublin for its survival: ‘Lookit,’ they said, ‘without Dublin as a major attraction, cruise liners would chose other routes. The Caribbean and the Mediterranean would be preferable. The point is that, if cruise operators didn’t have access to Dublin, they wouldn’t visit Ireland at all.’
Not happy with such a Doom and Gloom analysis is chairman of Cobh Tourism, Jack Walsh, who went on record with criticism of the Dublin Port decision. He warned that tourist interests in Blarney, Cobh, Kinsale and Killarney would be hit and that jobs would be lost in areas such as bus operators, tour guides, tourist attractions, cafés, restaurants and shops.
Walsh told the Evening Echo that the decision should have been ‘assessed’ before
announcing it to the public: ‘Dublin Port should be speaking to the professionals in the
industry, people who specialise in cruise tourism ... We have spent all this time
building (the cruise trade) and getting Cobh recognised as a great destination
and then all that work could be gone for nothing. A terrible, terrible shame.’
Also worried is Cobh Tourism supremo, Hendrick Verwey. He thinks it ludicrous that ships bringing 3,000 passengers to Ireland should be turned away and he wants Minister Ross, in conjunction with Tourism Ireland, ‘to get involved.’
A constitutional walk
And if that’s not bad enough, a bruahaha has erupted between Cobh and the Port of Cork over a stretch of ground long regarded as a public right of way. The Five Foot Way on the Deepwater Quay stretches from the Annie Moore statue to the railway station at Whitepoint. It is a very popular quayside pathway for those seeking moderate exercise, invigorating sea air and ‘a constitutional’ that is beneficial to one’s overall wellbeing.
But not for much longer, warn locals, who’ve become alarmed at the closure of the walkway when cruise liners are docking and leaving the port. They claim the Port hasn’t the right to block public access to the Five Foot Way, particularly since the picturesque and popular amenity has been enjoyed by townspeople and visitors from time immemorial.
After discussions, locals and the Port of Cork agreed to a 30-minute closure while ships were docking or leaving Cobh but, as far as protesters were concerned, the point at issue is the protection of a traditional right of way that has been in existence for over 150 years.
They have no objection to cruise ships coming into Cobh. Their ‘beef’ or concern is the novel line of action currently adopted by the Port of Cork, as well as the private property notices that it is placing in areas frequented by locals, such as Marino Point, Kennedy Pier, and the Pilot Boat Pier on the east side of the town.
Curiously, a walkway of another sort also is a matter of concern in the harbour town of Cobh. An Bord Pleanála shot down a plan to build a new pedestrian walkway and viewing platform on a pier that was the point of embarkation for Irish passengers (mostly poor) who travelled on the Titanic. Cork County Council had granted planning approval for the project but the decision was opposed by groups such as Cobh Tourism, The Cobh and Great Island Historic Preservation Group and Cobh Tidy Towns, as well as several private individuals.
The famous pier had been allowed fall into an advanced condition of decay and was on the point of collapsing into the sea when Cork County Council agreed to save what was left of the structure from total loss and destruction.
Cork County Council also granted an adjacent business, the ‘Titanic Experience,’ permission to erect a pedestrian walkway and viewing platform over the existing Titanic Pier, and to carry out conservation works.
Plans also were proposed for the installation of a kiosk and turnstile in a corner of the Town Park. These were to function as the ticket office to the walkway.
At which point, more than 1,300 Cobh inhabitants cried ‘enough was enough’. In a submission to the country’s top planning authority they raised objections about the kiosk, the loss of sea views and the impact on the amenities of the town’s public park. They won their case.
Some eyebrows were raised at the disclosure that Julian Assange (and his cat) saved almost £150,000 in rent during the seven years that the Wikileak’s man spent as a refugee in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
The Embassy is in Knightsbridge, one of the most expensive areas of London where the average, monthly rent for a room is £1,928.
Word has it that this sign recently went up in a nearby shop: ‘Due to an unexpected vacancy, room available to rent in a building close to Harrod’s and Royal Parks. Balcony. Great Security. No Cats. NO INTERNET.’