NO GOVERNMENT MONEY FOR FERMOY WEIR REPAIRS
Members of a deputation from Fermoy that last week met Minister Conor Lenihan in the Dail in an effort to secure funding for the weir repairs came back with their tails between their legs. The group were angered and frustrated as the minister communicated to those present the fact that the local council was responsible for funding the project.
It is with disbelief that the members of the deputation received the news, as the council is absolutely strapped for money and cannot, it claims, afford to fund a project of this magnitude.
The general feeling after the meeting was that the buck was being passed around from one department with some of those present claiming that Minister Lenihan suggested that the deputation meet with Minister Martin Mansergh and ask for his department to provide the funding.
Meanwhile, Minister Mansergh allegedly told the deputation that they had to look for funding for the project from Minister Lenihan.
“I was very frustrated leaving the Dail. I felt we were treated with contempt. Where do we go from here? Do we go back again and meet Minister Lenihan? It is totally contentious. They are sending the fool back again,” Cllr Tadhg O’Donovan told The Avondhu.
Regarding the funding, he said, “There was a €250,000 provision put in place for the rock pass as part of Phase 1 of the Fermoy Flood Relief Plan. Some of that money could go towards repairing the weir. If money was available for the rock pass then it should be available for the weir.”
It is quite clear that Fermoy Town Council has no money to repair the weir.
“My concern is that the buck was passed on that day from one department to the other and they knew they weren’t going to give us the money before we even asked for it,” Mayor Noel McCarthy said.
Cllr John Murphy couldn’t hide his frustration either.
“I feel very annoyed about the whole situation. If we don’t get the money it’s a disaster. We are very concerned. They had funding for the rock pass in phase 1. Where is that money now? We have people on board doing the Fermoy flood relief, who have expertise and all the equipment on site. We could do it at a fraction of the price,” he said.
Chris O’Donovan from the Fermoy Angling Association introduces another valid concern about the possibility of the rock pass being brought back on the agenda if the weir repairs are not complete by the end of the year.
He also feels that the Government is basically throwing a fit over Fermoy Town Council making the weir a protected structure.
“Fermoy Town Council made the weir a protected structure and Minister Lenihan is not happy with the weir being made a protected structure. He’s now basically saying that it’s upon the owners to fund the project,” Mr O’Donovan pointed out.
So did the meeting with the ministers accomplish much?
Cllr Olive Corcoran, who was part of the delegation to Dublin told The Avondhu, “I learned only one thing from this meeting-Mr Conor Lenihan told us that the money from Brussels to repair the weir had not been applied for in time and that it was his opinion that the weir had been allowed to get into disrepair by Fermoy Town Council.”
Both Mayor McCarthy and local TD Sean Sherlock will continue to put pressure on the Government to fund the proposed renovations of the weir in the town.
“It is inconceivable to expect the town council to meet the cost of repairing the weir,” Deputy Sherlock said.
“I have asked Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Eamonn Ryan to clarify his department’s role in this situation. It is my hope that the department would fund the entire works. Following last week’s deputation with Minister of State Conor Lenihan, I am not convinced that the minister is fully committed to repairing the existing weir.”
HERITAGE OF WEIR
“My fear is that the long-term aim is to install a rock ramp pass as a fall back solution should the parties involved fail to reach a consensus on funding the repair work on the existing weir.
"Such a result would obviously be detrimental in the extreme for a number of interested parties, such as the local rowing club, and to the town of Fermoy itself given the heritage of the weir.”
Cllr McCarthy added that he too would look to ensure that Fermoy Town Council is not saddled with a bill it cannot afford.
“I will have a motion at the next meeting of Cork County Council seeking the full council’s support in seeking funding for the repairs. There is a strong feeling in the town that the weir must be protected. Last year’s protests brought the town to a standstill as the people of Fermoy recognise that the weir is a local landmark,” Cllr McCarthy concluded.
Friday 5th March 7:36am