O’Ke­effe calls for weir works to be ex­pe­dited

The Corkman - - NEWS - BILL BROWNE

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.

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