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PIER PRESSURE: Union Hall locals protest Keelbeg closure

April 10th, 2023 10:43 AM

By Southern Star Team

PIER PRESSURE: Union Hall locals protest Keelbeg closure Image
Protestors at the pier. (Photo: Andrew Harris)

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By Kieran O’Mahony & Jackie Keogh

LOCALS in Union Hall are galvanised in their opposition to Cork County Council’s plans to close off a local pier to the public.

The community has held meetings this week to garner support to challenge plans to close off what they say is an active and important pier.

Over 200 people met at the pier last Sunday morning with placards and banners, while a smaller group gathered outside Skibbereen Library on Monday morning as a Council meeting took place, with a further protest planned for County Hall.

Cork County Council previously made changes to the main pier at Keelbeg to improve its functionality, as a busy commercial quayside, but it is an adjacent pier – one that dates back to 1895 – that has been deemed unsafe.

The Council said the pier needs to be closed off due to health and safety concerns, and signage was erected last Friday stating it was an unsafe structure, but locals disagree.

‘I can’t find one person who’s in favour of it and we will take our fight to County Hall next,’ said Aodh O’Donnell, chairman of the Glandore Union Hall Harbour users committee. 

‘The only one pushing this proposal hard is Cork County Council and we as a committee have had zero communication from them on the issue.’ 

Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard said senior executives from Cork County Council need to meet with locals in Union Hall.

Protestors outside Skibbereen library.


Cork South West FF TD Christopher O’Sullivan said he was ‘proud’ to join protestors on Sunday.

He said he has written to the Council to say the pier is of great importance to the people of Union Hall.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of the West Cork Municipal District, Cllr Paul Hayes said the engineer’s report – which was presented to the Council three years ago – referred to ‘poor structural conditions’ but was unable, without further study, to say if the structure had been compromised, or is, in fact, dangerous.

In 1995, some rock armour was put in place but overall there has been ‘a lack of investment’ by the Council in the facility, said Cllr Hayes.

‘In a compo culture,’ he added, ‘I can understand the Council’s hesitancy, but you can’t read a report to suit your ends.’

Cllr Coakley said she would prefer to see the €16,000 required to buy the new barriers spent instead on upgrading the surface of the old pier and she said locals would be happy to fundraise as well.

Senior executive officer at Cork County Council, MacDara O h-Icí said the money is to be spent on ‘replacing barriers that were removed by unauthorised people.’

But Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) warned: ‘If the barriers go up they will come down because the locals are feeling very strongly about it.’


The new sign denying access to the pier.(Photo: Andy Gibson)


He said leisure and small craft cannot use a nearby slipway. He said that it is only fit for canoes and then asked: ‘How far are we going to take health and safety?’

‘The Byrne and Looby report was done years ago,’ he said, ‘and no one has fallen off the pier yet. Locals have been using this pier for amenity purposes for 150 years.’

MacDara O h-Icí confirmed that the Council had already applied for €210,000 in funding for a master plan for the piers, and for general development of that area, on two occasions, but it had been unsuccessful.

Mr O h-Icí said it isn’t the entire pier that presents a danger to the public. It is, he said, the last 20m – the last quarter – of the 80m pier that the engineers are concerned about. 

‘This,’ he added, ‘is an issue of imminent concern and it would be remiss of the Council not to take action based on the recommendations of the report.’

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