AN electronic barrier at the entrance to Union Hall pier was accidentally damaged at the weekend.
Initially, people were worried that the damage might have been an act of vandalism on the controversial barrier.
But that fear was alleviated when the van driver who caused the damage came forward.
Cllr Paul Hayes (Ind) explained how the barrier was part of a pier improvement project worth €40,000 that was carried out in consultation with local stakeholders.
The project was largely funded by the Department of Marine with some co-funding provided by Cork County Council as part of a county-wide plan to make working piers safer.
Keelbeg Pier is the eighth most active fishing pier in the country, landing over 2,100 tonnes of fish worth €9m each year, but it is also used by the local rowing club, and unimpeded access is required by the local RNLI service, according to Cllr Hayes.
The pier has been the subject of a number of media reports over the last two years. Locals repeatedly complained about dumping on the pier, as well as delays by the local authority in appointing a harbour master.
Both the department and the Council decided that an electronic barrier was needed to highlight the fact that people were entering a working pier, and as a means of controlling access in times of emergencies or high risk. But locals expressed their concerns that the barrier might impact roadside traffic flow, parking and pedestrian safety.
Following a consultation process, the work went ahead and it included new line markings to designate works areas, a walking area, and storage areas.
CCTV was also installed to ensure that the area is monitored out of hours for compliance and public safety issues, and rails were placed along the edge of the pier.
Cork County Council issued a statement to The Southern Star: ‘The damage caused to the barrier at Keelbeg Pier in Union Hall was the result of a road traffic incident. Cork County Council does intend to replace the infrastructure that was damaged.’