A DISPUTE between locals and the Port of Cork over the right of way on a long-established walkway on Cobh harbour could have national consequences, according to a local councillor.
Locals are 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 a period of 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.
Locals 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 little-known legislation under the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009 requires all rights of way to be registered before 2021.
“This is a complex situation which could have national importance. It’s a lovely walkway and people have been using it for generations. Undoubtedly, there’s a right of way there in layman’s terms and I believe it’s listed on Fáilte Ireland’s map as a walkway.
“However, to the best of my knowledge, it isn’t formally registered anywhere and the question is; if it is not, could it expire next year?
“The walkway itself was closed when the Disney ship came in and private security firms were used to block traffic. This is questionable as there was no formal road closure licence applied for. The walkway is continually blocked when foreign warships come in. One might have some understanding of that but a commercial ship pushes the limit.
“What needs to be established is who owns the walkway, if there is a right of way and if it needs to be registered. If it does, who needs to register it, is it the responsibility of the public or the local authority?
“Many people may be unaware that there is a right of way in the deeds of a property until a dispute arises. These will all expire in 2021 if not registered. It could be a matter of national importance,” he added.
A dispute also exists regarding a shoreline pathway from Carrigaloe Railway Bridge to Marino Point which has long been used by walkers but has been closed to the public by the Port of Cork since the visit of the British warship HMS Defender in November.
“The local community are not happy about this,” said Mr Ó Cadhla.
Elected members of the Cobh municipal district are set to discuss the matter with County Hall officials at a meeting next month.
A spokesperson for the Port of Cork said: “The Port of Cork have requested a meeting with the Cobh Municipal District of Cork County Council and are awaiting a date. Once a date is confirmed, the Port of Cork would welcome a conversation with Cllr Diarmaid O’Cadhla on the matters raised regarding Cobh Deepwater Quay.”