O’Keeffe calls for weir works to be expedited
A CALL has been made for Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) and Cork County Council to agree on who is responsible for works to the Fermoy Weir and finally bring the long-running saga over the structure to a conclusion.
The issue of the weir was recently raised on the floor of Dáil Éireann by Cork East TD Kevin O’Keeffe (FF) who asked Environment Minister Simon Coveney if he would expedite the provision of a ‘fish path’ for migrating salmon on the weir.
“The current fish path has been destroyed and the weir needs to be capped and protective boulders put in place to prevent it being further damaged from debris being swept down the river,” said Deputy O’Keeffe.
“Cork County Council are carrying out temporary work, but it needs to be escalated to having the essential permanent works put in place in order to safeguard the salmon stock when in season.”
In his reply the Minister wrote that his department and the IFI had been liaising with Cork County Council to advise how any proposed works could be consistent with fisheries and environmental obligations.
He wrote that the Council had advised his department that it was involved in land acquisition in respect of its permanent project proposals and, once this was complete, had undertaken to set out a timetable for the commencement and completion of works.
“IFI has been in regular contact with Cork County Council over recent months seeking to progress matters and on September 6 last requested a further meeting with the Council, particularly as regards both the permanent and interim works and compliance with the EU Habitats Directive, A response is awaited from the Council,” read the reply.
Clearly unhappy with the ongoing delays in resolving the issue, Cllr O’Keeffe said various pieces of correspondence he had received over recent weeks and months seemed to suggest that both bodies were “unsure as to who had responsibility for the weir.”
“The local Fermoy branches of the course Anglers Association and the Game anglers Association, in addition to the Fermoy Town and District Angling Club, are all on record in supporting the development of an exclusion zone to protect spawning salmon migrating up the river,” said Deputy O’Keeffe.
He went on to point out that Fermoy Weir was one of two where fishing remains permitted and as such a resolution to the entire issue must be found “as soon as possible.”
“However, it is clear to me that this whole issue is being passed from the IFI to Cork County Council and back again without decisions being made,” said Deputy O’Keeffe.
“Further delays will only serve to damage stocks in the river.
I am calling on IFI, the County Council and the Department to come together, make the decisions required and find the funding for these important works at Fermoy Weir,” he concluded.