JUST WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR REPAIRS TO FERMOY WEIR?
The question of who is going to fund the repairs on the Fermoy weir remains very much up in the air.
So far the buck is being passed around from one government department to another with no agency, in particular, willing to make the funds available.
“The onus rests with the local authority to maintain the structure they value and protect so zealously, in the same way they fund and maintain other important infrastructure in their ownership,” states a reply from the Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Mr Conor Lenihan, to the parliamentary question of funding for the repairs asked by Labour TD Sean Sherlock.
However, the question many of the delegates who went to Dublin recently to meet Minister Lenihan want to ask is - where the €250,000 set aside for the initially proposed rock pass is and why a contribution from that money is not being made towards a project that would cost a fraction of the planned project? The repair of the weir is estimated to cost between €120,000 and €150,000.
“Where is that money gone, the €250,000 that was put aside for the rock pass? It is very disappointing. If the Government made some contribution to it, we’d try to raise part of the money one way or another,” said a disillusioned Cllr John Murphy.
Fermoy Mayor, Cllr Noel McCarthy suggests that local TDs need to lobby the department for funding to be made available, while Cllr Tadhg O’Donovan is of the opinion that the delegation needs to go back and meet the minister again to ask for the funding, which should be readily available form the department.
“There has to be a united campaign at both town and county level. Minister Martin Mansergh told us that it was Minister Conor Lenihan’s department that had to provide the money.
"Funding should come from that €250,000 set aside for the rock pass. Now what is preventing him from making available less than that amount to repair the weir? There is finance available in that department. The local town council doesn’t have €250 never mind €250,000. The minister forced the rock pass on our community when we didn’t want it.
"Then it was revealed that the weir repair was sufficient. If they had the money for the rock pass, they should have a fraction of that for the repair. It doesn’t make economic and social sense. To me his position doesn’t stand to any logic. It is pure intimidation. He abdicated his responsibility for the area,” the councillor told The Avondhu.
THROWING A TANTRUM
Cllr O’Donovan concluded, “He (the minister) is well aware of what position Fermoy Town Council is in. If we were to raise money it would be in the form of a loan from his government. There is no rationale associated with his decision. The rock pass would cost twice as much as the restoration. He is behaving like a child that you took the football from and now he is throwing a tantrum. His position is not sustainable.”
Regarding the matter Labour TD Sean Sherlock believes there is more there than meets the eye.
“I believe that Conor Lenihan is being disingenuous. I believe we need to go back to the EU complaint and what the nature of that complaint was. There has been no transparency in relation to the complaint and I believe it to be spurious.
"How can you say that the progress of fish is being impeded and not have a fish counter in Fermoy or one that even works in Clondulane? This is pure chicanery and I believe there are other forces at work here. I want the facts.
"A rock ramp pass is a crazy idea when a cheaper repair of the existing fish pass would make sense, assuming it would be funded by the department and not Fermoy Town Council,” Deputy Sherlock pointed out.
Friday 19th March 8:41am