Video: Pier row in West Cork rumbles on

County council plans to close a pier in Union Hall and upgrade another in Glandore have met with strong opposition, says DAVID FORSYTHE
Video: Pier row in West Cork rumbles on

CONCERNS: Glandore Pier above. Pictures: David Forsythe

PROPOSED works at two piers in one of West Cork’s most scenic harbours continue to face strong local opposition, despite efforts by Cork County Council to meet with local people.

The council has proposed the closure of Keelbeg Pier in Union Hall for safety reasons, while Glandore Pier across the harbour will see safety upgrade works that locals claim will severely restrict activity at the pier in the summer months, if they are implemented as proposed.

Cork County Council applied for funding from the Brexit Adjustment Local Authority Marine Infrastructure Scheme 2022-2023 to rejuvenate public marine infrastructure at 15 locations along the coast and was allocated €4.8 million in funding for 14 of those schemes.

The one application that was not successful was for works at Keelbeg Pier in Union Hall.

The council has faced fierce criticism from elected representatives in the area for a lack of consultation with local people before plans for the two piers were announced.

Local Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O’Sullivan said: “Restricting the use of our piers and harbours is not the right approach, we should invest in them and encourage more people to use them.

“It’s important to note that the reason Cork County Council didn’t get funding to install the barrier at Keelbeg Pier was because ‘the works appear to be fundamentally security control measures, which didn’t meet with the central objectives of the scheme’.

“In other words, Cork County Council should be applying for funding to improve and enhance these facilities, instead of restricting use.

“I would urge the Council to apply for funding again, but this time they should apply for funding to repair Keelbeg Pier and to improve facilities at Glandore Pier.”

 Richard Bradburn, Treasurer, of Glandore Harbour Yacht Club. Pictures: David Forsythe.
Richard Bradburn, Treasurer, of Glandore Harbour Yacht Club. Pictures: David Forsythe.

Following calls from local representatives, council officials have met with local people in both Glandore and Union Hall to listen to their concerns and outline in more detail the plans for the piers.

But local anger at the manner in which the issue has been handled remains significant.

Union Hall resident Trish Hurley told The Echo: “This pier, it has such memories, there’s such activities, it brings massive tourism in the summer months between leisure, sailing, fishing, swimming, angling, everything.

“We just find it so unacceptable that this is going to be closed off. There are other ways of doing it, they can look into repairs or something. Just don’t close it off and leave it to go into total disrepair.”

Despite the objections, council officials have confirmed to local people that the closure of Keelbeg Pier will go ahead later this year.

A spokesperson said: “Cork County Council has prioritised works and initiatives to support a safe working environment at Keelbeg Pier, Union Hall. 

"The Council is committed to prioritising the safety of the pier, slipway and car park for users and visitors, and will continue to seek funding for future improvements and developments to the infrastructure.”

Regarding Glandore Pier, the Council stated: “The procurement for the works is intended to provide a work plan that can support safe public access to the pier and adjacent slip during the works.

“The works are not intrusive and can be delivered swiftly once a contractor is appointed.

“It is intended that activity will continue as normal on the pier following delivery of the minor works, with users being mindful of the new safety measures and existing operational rules to ensure the marine infrastructure is a safe zone for users, visitors, contractors and staff.”

Despite the assurances, pier users and local people in Glandore are still concerned that there has been no written confirmation from the council that their activities at the pier can continue as normal.

Richard Bradburn, Treasurer of the Glandore Harbour Yacht Club, said: “The issue for us was lack of consultation and really that’s been the main problem with us. It creates so much bad blood that’s completely unnecessary.

“We’d like to see something in writing that says that there are no plans to limit storage on the pier.”

Tim Forde, Commodore of the yacht club, added: “The main point is if there is funding here, it should be used in a positive light, not a negative light, and things shouldn’t be taken away that we currently have, no matter how poor.

“Also, any funding should be to improve them and it should be done in consultation with all the user groups.”

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