CRUISE passengers coming into Cobh from April could be met with protesters if a dispute between residents and the Port of Cork over public rights of way is not resolved.
Residents are at odds with the Port of Cork at a number of places around the Great Island including Marino Point, Kennedy Pier and at the Pilot Boat Pier on the East Camber. In each of these locations, Port of Cork has erected private property notices despite locals using them for generations.
A protest on Sunday saw Gardaí try to stop locals from removing ‘private property’ signs at the public right of way at Marino Point.
Locals are particularly outraged that the Port of Cork has been closing an area known locally as Five Foot Way on Deepwater Quay — from the Annie Moore statue to the train station at Whitepoint — when cruise vessels are docked.
Last September, the walkway was closed to public use for over four hours when the Disney Magic cruise vessel was docked at the site. Private security personnel also prevented cars from parking in the area and restricted access, according to locals, who say the Port of Cork does not have a right to do this as it does not own the land.
Councillor Diarmaid Ó Cadhla said some residents groups will picket the Five Foot Way every time a liner docks and will remove barriers and private property notices that Port of Cork may erect.
“The Council is saying unofficially that the Port of Cork owns the land,” he said. “If there is a dispute as to rights of way, they have no role and the Council can only get involved in the establishments of tracks between landowners.
“Councillors are of the opinion the matter needs to be resolved as soon as possible.
“I will be providing the Cobh Municipal District with an official map of the land registry which shows Five Foot Way and the section over which the Port of Cork has an entitlement. However, the map clearly shows that there is a gap all along the seafront which is three to four metres wide that is in public ownership.
“Here we have a private company putting up private property signs on what we say is public ground.
“Residents have objected to Port of Cork issuing parking permits on Kennedy Pier and imposing clamping and fines, even though they do not own the pier, it is publically owned. These questions need to be cleared up and public concerns eased before the tourist season kicks in. There is no reason why the Port of Cork’s development plans for the harbour should conflict with people taking their dog for a walk.”
Legislation under the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 requires all rights of way to be registered before 2021. The Port of Cork said it is awaiting a date to meet with councillors and officials from Cobh Municipal District.