Mixed reaction in Cork city to announcement that Morrison's Island flood defence scheme will move to construction

Mixed reaction in Cork city to announcement that Morrison's Island flood defence scheme will move to construction
The proposed Trinity Bridge outside the College of Commerce as part of the Morrison's Island plans.

THERE has been a mixed reaction to Cork City Council’s announcement that the Morrison’s Island project is due to get underway, with a detailed design being finalised and a contractor expected to be on-site in early 2021.

The CBA’s Lawrence Owens described the project as “transformative”, however, Save Cork City’s John Hegarty said “successful cities don’t become successful this way”.

The scheme will be delivered along Morrison’s Quay and Fr. Matthew Quay between Parliament Bridge and Parnell Bridge. City Hall has said these are currently “ineffective public spaces, primarily used for car parking, and are underutilised as a riverside amenity,” while they are also the source of regular tidal flooding in the city.

The scheme will result in a high-quality public realm and improved views of the River Lee according to City Hall: “The upgraded streetscape will incorporate a wide riverside promenade, a much-improved setting for the impressive Holy Trinity Church, a plaza area at the eastern end of the South Mall and a redesigned Trinity Bridge crossing to Union Quay.” 

A view of the Fr Matthew Quay as part of the Morrison's island plans.
A view of the Fr Matthew Quay as part of the Morrison's island plans.

Traffic movements are also set to change, while car parking will be reduced, and additional bicycle parking will be provided.

These improvements are in addition to the construction of flood defences, changes to the surface water drainage system and remedial works to the existing quay walls, which “will bring much-needed reassurance to City Centre businesses”.

The historic cut limestone quay walls will also be refurbished to ensure their long-term integrity.

John Hegarty, of Save Cork City, the group who had been campaigning for a tidal barrier instead of this scheme, was disappointed with the council’s announcement.

“On a very sad day of mourning for the people of Beirut we regret the actions of City Hall to celebrate their continued forcing through of a split part of the discredited walls scheme. Successful cities don’t become successful this way,” he said.

“While cities all over the world are coming together to face the difficult and unknown challenges that the future may bring and to heal the wounds of the past we deeply regret the actions of our city that say clearly to us that they do not act to care for their own people and do not understand the value of having so many committed citizens that do care for the future of their home.” 

The Morrison's Island Public Realm and Flood Defence Project (proposed)
The Morrison's Island Public Realm and Flood Defence Project (proposed)

However, the CEO of CBA Lawrence Owens welcomed the news.

“The impact of this scheme, when completed, will be transformative for the city adding both to the visual amenity and helping to unlock the commercial potential of the area.

“The risk of flooding is forever on the mind of property owners in Cork city and in this extremely challenging time for businesses to have the reassurance that their premises and livelihoods will be protected from flooding is a highly positive and welcome development,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ann Doherty, Chief Executive of Cork City Council said, as well as helping to alleviate flood risk, the proposals would “give the area a badly needed facelift and encourage both locals and tourists to visit and enjoy the new public spaces and amenities.”

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