CHANCES SLIM FOR REPAIR OF FERMOY WEIR AS 50-DAY DEADLINE LOOMS
The chances of repairing the weir in Fermoy before the deadline set by Minister of State Conor Lenihan are not looking good. Minister Lenihan’s deadline will expire this August and Fermoy Town Council have yet to finalise the report, which will cost the work, that needs to be carried out.
“To date we still don’t know how much needs to be spent on refurbishing the weir,” the Mayor of Fermoy, Cllr Pa O’Driscoll told The Avondhu.
“The engineering department is currently working on the surveys of the weir and then the work will be handed over to the OPW. I am hoping that we will have this report and a final costing on the proposed work in a matter of weeks but realistically I can’t see work beginning on the weir within the next 50 days,” Pa O’Driscoll continued.
Not convinced Cllr Noel McCarthy is not convinced that the Minister is expecting the work to be completed within the next 50 days, “I would expect that the Minister knows that the council have now taken over the weir, that the surveys and planning is underway and that work will begin as soon as possible. This is what the Minister expected and now this is underway, I don’t think the Minister realistically expected the work to be completed this year,” Cllr McCarthy said.
In a statement from the Minister’s office read, “The Minister of State has received no update from the town council since issuing his direction. He has been advised that this matter is being progressed, with a meeting last week between the council and the staff of Inland Fisheries Ireland from Clonmel. The council are to submit preliminary plans to the IFI staff over the coming weeks for assessment and detailed specification.”
ROWING CLUB ADAMENT
Secretary of Fermoy Rowing Club, Donal O’Keeffe is, however, adamant that the Minister’s deadline was for the repair of the weir and not for the town council to begin its work, “Minister Lenihan set this deadline for a reason and it is our understanding that if this is missed by the council then the Minister would let the work to the Fisheries Board and their plans to install a rock ram.
"Last December Minister Conor Lenihan gave Fermoy Town Council a deadline of 31st December, 2010 to repair the weir, a protected structure in the council’s ownership, or see the Department’s preferred solution imposed upon the town. Legal and environmental concerns regarding the migration of salmon preclude any in-river work after the 31st of August,” Donal O’Keeffe told The Avondhu.
“The Mayor’s admission that the work will not be completed, or possibly even begun, by the 31st of August begs the question: has the town council secured from the Fisheries Board a written dispensation to carry out in-river work after that date? If not, has the town council received from Minister Lenihan a written extension of the December 31st, 2010 deadline?” Mr. O’Keeffe continued.
Meanwhile the mayor has echoed the calls by Cllr Michael Hanley to set up a Fermoy River Authority, “I would support this proposal. It would be very important that all the different groups, which use the river, are involved in the development of this resource. The river has huge potential to develop for recreation and tourism in the town and I would like to see more done to enhance this sector in Fermoy,” Pa O’Driscoll concluded.
CALL FOR FUNDRAISING
As to the unknown cost of repairing the weir, Cllr Noel McCarthy is calling on the clubs and associations which use the river to fundraise and donate to help pay for the repairs to the weir.
“I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect the clubs and associations to help with the costs of repairing and maintaining the weir on the river. It should not be left solely to the rate payers in Fermoy to cover the costs of repairing the weir,” Cllr McCarthy said.
In response to Cllr McCarthy’s calls for fundraising, Donal O’Keeffe told The Avondhu, “We are way ahead of the councillor. Since 2006 Fermoy Rowing Club has spent in the region of €30,000 in its campaign to prevent the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources from demolishing the historic, protected structure and replacing it with a rock ramp pass. As a small, voluntary sports club we have been forced to sacrifice badly needed funds to safeguard the future of our club.
"To suggest that it is unfair on the rate payers to expect them to pay for the weir repair is an argument that could be made about any other aspect of the council’s remit. What about the swimming pool? The car parks? What about our new town hall? Was there a lot of concern about the rate payers when millions were spent on that structure?”
“Ultimately, the weir is the property and responsibility of Fermoy Town Council and it has been since the urban district council accepted the gift of it a quarter of a century ago. Successive councils neglected the structure and it is now in a state of disrepair. If the council wishes to see it saved, as they have voted to do so, then a sense of urgency would be welcome even at this late stage,” Mr. O’Keeffe concluded.
Thursday 15th July 7:36pm