The people of Passage West have reacted with bitter disappointment to the announcement that the local dockyards are no longer to be sold to the Cork County Council.
The Evening Echo revealed yesterday that the docks - the location for a major town centre regeneration proposal - has been taken off the market because of uncertainties surrounding Brexit.
The council had been granted €1.9m from the Government last November to buy the docks from the Doyle Shipping Group for a regeneration scheme that would see the docks become a modern waterfront settlement overlooking the harbour.
However, Brexit has led to the decision to take the site off the market, because it does not know what Ireland's future shipping needs will be.
Local Councillor Michael Frick Murphy said there is a lot of disappointment in the area and people feel the potential of Passage West is being thrown to the wayside.
“It’s an awful blow,” Mr Murphy said.
“The dockyards are the only way to expand the potential of the town. It is holding back the whole town.”
Mr Murphy said that people felt Passage West was being forgotten and that the council had gotten their hopes up only to crush them completely.
“It is a big blow and people feel they have been given false hope,” Mr Murphy said.
“They feel forgotten, nothing will ever come to Passage, that is what they are saying.”
Sinn Fein TD Donnchadh O’Laoghaire had been championing the development of the Dockyard since 2015.
Posting on Facebook yesterday upon hearing the news, Mr O’Laoghaire said he was also very disappointed and that he hoped in time the Dockyards would be sold to the Council but also said that a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) should also be looked at.
If time does not adjust the situation regarding the owner, then the Council can, and should, proceed to Compulsory Purchase Order. I and Cllr Murphy will be communicating this to the Council and offering any assistance we can. I will be in contact directly with Minister English to ensure as much flexibility as possible is given regarding the funding.”
Mr O’Laoghaire said there were a number of other things that could be done in the meantime to preempt a potential sale in the future.
“At a minimum, it can develop a Masterplan for the Site, as the Planning Authority, for what it sees as the optimum future development for the community as a whole, and adjust planning conditions and Local Area Plans accordingly. This can shape what will happen here in the future, ownership is not necessary.”
Speaking about what is needed to move forward with plans to develop Passage West, Mr O’Laoghaire said the Council must be bold and ambitious to secure the best potential outcome for the town.
“As I have said previously on numerous occasions, this has the potential to transform the town and open it up to the water and we will do all in our power to make it happen.”