Tender prices of €400,000 – €500,000 for repairs to the repairs to the weir (The Avondhu 19/7/12)

Repair works to the weir in Fermoy have been delayed, as the tender prices received by Fermoy Town Council were way over budget, writes Sandra Quinn.

The town clerk, Pauline Moriarty, told the council that the work was included in Phase Two of the Fermoy Flood Relief Plan, but that the tenders received were for €500,000 and €400,00 and that the council were going to use the designs from the tender and seek a better price.

Cllr Tadgh O’Donovan argued that the council members should be kept abreast of all changes and that they should be updated on any changes to the process.

This was supported by Cllr Noel McCarthy who said that the weir repair works should be on the agenda each month, so the members receive receive regular updates.

The town manager, Katherine Walsh said that bringing the process to tender again will take at least a month, so the repairs could now be put off until next year.

Posted by: fermoyweir | November 24, 2011

Weir to be removed after long-running dispute

By Eoin English and Stephen Rogers

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A WEIR on one of the country’s finest salmon fisheries is to be removed after a long-running legal battle was settled.

The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Pat Rabbitte, announced last night that the Clondulane weir on the Blackwater River will be removed next summer after settlement was reached in advance of the hearing of the court case.

A long-running dispute had developed between the Government and the Duke of Devonshire, owner of Lismore Castle, the weir and the fishing rights on a one-and-three-quarter mile stretch of the river because the Duke believed the weir’s removal would have a drastic impact on salmon fishing all along the river.

However, the Government, acting on instructions from Europe, wanted the structure removed to allow free migration of salmon and other fish up the river.

In July 2006 then Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources Noel Dempsey issued a direction requiring the removal of the weir.

However, Lismore Realty Ltd and Lismore Trust Ltd brought judicial review proceedings against that move.

Yesterday, however, the Government said an agreement had been reached before the matter made it to the court.

“The terms are that the parties will bear their own costs and Lismore Realty Ltd and Lismore Trust Ltd will pay all reasonable costs of the removal of the Clondulane weir, which will take place during summer 2012,” said Mr Rabbitte.

“Inland Fisheries Ireland will act as agents of the minister and manage the removal of the structure so as to minimise the impact on flora, fauna and habitat in the river, which is in a Special Area of Conservation.”

Posted by: fermoyweir | October 23, 2011

Native fish species listed as threatened or vulnerable

SEÁN Mac CONNELL

SIX OF Ireland’s native fish species and one of its three amphibians have been classified as “threatened” in a scientific report published yesterday.

The new Red List found the European eel species here to be critically endangered while five other native species – pollan, Arctic char, twaite shad, Killarney shad and Atlantic salmon – were deemed to be “vulnerable”.

The new Red Data list of Irish Amphibians, Reptiles and Freshwater Fish also placed the natterjack toad on the endangered species list.

Dr Cathal Gallagher of Inland Fisheries Ireland said: “The new Red List . . . gives a ‘health-check’ on the status of the species listed. For us who work closely with fish, this document catalogues the status, distribution and threats facing both our native and non-native fish species, it points to outstanding issues that need to be addressed and gives us a time frame for actions.

“This document provides scientists, managers and stakeholders with an analysis which can be used to support our fish populations for the next 10 years. Thanks must go to all who contributed to the development of this updated Red List,” Dr Gallagher added.

The Red List was compiled by scientists from organisations across the island including Inland Fisheries Ireland, the National Parks Wildlife Service, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

It provides a full and objective assessment of Ireland’s amphibians, reptiles and freshwater fish, identifying those species most in need of conservation interventions.

It also identifies the major threats to these species so that mitigating measures can be implemented. For the first time, an objective assessment of the status of non-native fish which have become naturalised in Ireland is also provided. Two of the established non-native fish were identified as invasive species in need of management (dace and chub) in the all-island study.

Donna Cassidy of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency said the Red Data List identified a number of widespread threats such as water pollution, the spread of invasive species, over-fishing, unsympathetic river management and climate change.

Barriers to upstream migration, such as weirs, were highlighted as being of particular importance to the lampreys and shads, she added.

Dr Ferdia Marnell of National Parks Wildlife Service said: “This is the sixth all-Ireland Red Data list to be published in recent years,” adding that Red Data lists for moths, lichens, bryophytes and seaweeds were also under way.

Irish Times, October 7th 2011

Posted by: fermoyweir | January 1, 2011

SHOCK RESIGNATION OF ROWING CLUB SECRETARY

By Brian Moore

In a shock announcement this week The Avondhu has learned of the resignation of Donal O’Keeffe as secretary at Fermoy Rowing Club. Mr O’Keeffe, who has worked tirelessly in an effort to save the Fermoy town weir and in doing so to secure the future of the rowing club, would not comment as to the reason for his resignation from the club.

However, a senior Fermoy Rowing Club member told The Avondhu that Mr O’Keeffe felt that he had not received support, especially from club president, Cllr John Murphy, who, Mr O’Keeffe said, had undermined his efforts to ensure that the weir was repaired by Fermoy Town Council.

NO COMMENT

Mr O’Keeffe said that he “wishes the club every success for the future” then declined to comment further. Fermoy Rowing Club chairman, Pa Granville said when asked to comment on Mr O’Keeffe’s resignation said that he was “sorry to see Donal go.”

When asked for the reasons why Mr. O’Keeffe had decided to resign Mr Granville said, “Donal sent a letter of resignation to the club and cited personal reasons for his decision.”

However, The Avondhu understands that it was a comment made by Fermoy Rowing Club president, Cllr John Murphy at a recent Fermoy Town Council meeting that led to Mr. O’Keeffe’s resignation.

COPY OF LETTER

The Avondhu received a copy of Mr. O’Keeffe’s resignation letter from a member of Fermoy Rowing Club in which Mr O’Keeffe states that ‘At the October meeting of Fermoy Town Council, the club president, Cllr John Murphy, disowned publically my criticisms and stated that the rowing club is very happy with the town council.

‘I felt this undermined completely my position, so, at the last committee meeting, I asked the members of the committee to decide which one of us spoke for the club. Not receiving the support of the committee, I was left with no choice but to resign’.

GREAT WORK

Asked to comment on this statement club president, Cllr John Murphy said, “Donal did great work for the club and I am sorry to see him go. I would like to see him reconsider his resignation and would like to see him back in Fermoy Rowing Club once again.”

Another club member, Ken Barry also spoke about Donal O’Keeffe’s resignation: “I am very sorry to see Donal go. His commitment and drive towards saving the weir and promoting the club will be sadly missed. Without Donal’s hard work the town would not have achieved what it has but it is Fermoy Rowing Club that will be at a loss for Donal’s departure. His unsupported and unrecognised work for the club and its members must be remembered,” Mr Barry said.

The Avondhu 22/12/2010.

Posted by: fermoyweir | October 24, 2010

FERMOY TOWN COUNCILLORS ARE HAPPY THAT WEIR WILL BE SORTED

Responding to all the hype and questions that still hang over the weir in Fermoy, the topic was again up for discussion at the town council meeting on Tuesday night last. Manager, Michael Cremin confirmed that the council had written back to the minister acknowledging his letter.

In relation to the fish pass, a template design has been done and has gone to consultants acting of behalf of OPW. Cllr John Murphy said he thought that the Fermoy Rowing Club would be involved as they are, “The main players who highlighted the issues with the weir.”

Michael Cremin responded saying that the main players are the townspeople. However, he is happy to sit with representatives of Fermoy Rowing Club but only in a positive manner.

Cllr Tadhg O’Donovan agreed that the community at large are the main players. However, in the interest of common sense, he added, “At some stage there should be public consultation to inform the public of developments to allay any fears or anxieties.”

Cllr Pa O’Driscoll added that he was, “Glad that we have a date when the fish pass will be repaired.”

He added, “ Work will be undertaken by the OPW so it will be to a high standard.”

Cllr Seamus Coleman agreed that it was good that the process is underway and said, “We are looking at the first quarter of 2011, which is great.”

The Avondhu 21/10/10

Posted by: fermoyweir | October 7, 2010

ROWING CLUB SEEKS URGENT MEETING WITH TOWN COUNCIL

Fermoy Rowing Club is seeking an urgent meeting with the local town council following a letter received from Minister Conor Lenihan concerning the delay in repairing the town’s weir.

In a letter to the town clerk, a copy of which was obtained by The Avondhu, the minister states: “I refer to your letter of 14 September advising that the council would not be able to strictly comply with the direction I issued on 21 December 2009 under section 116 of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959 requiring Fermoy Town Council to carry out immediate repair works at Fermoy Weir to reduce the barrier effect of the weir on the migration of salmon and lamprey which are protected species under the Habitats Directive.

“I went to some lengths to facilitate the council by allowing for the repair of the current fish pass and it is with some disappointment that I learn that the required works will not now commence until quarter 1 of 2011.”

CONTINGENCY PLANS

Minister Lenihan went on to state that he was aware that salmon had in fact been unable to cross the weir during recent low water levels.

“In light of the lack of progress on the repair works and should fish passage deteriorate further, Fermoy Town Council will need to consider and develop contingency plans it will put in place to alleviate this situation and liaise closely with Inland Fisheries Ireland in this regard,” the Minister’s letter continued.

In closing, Minister Lenihan said: “On a final note it is critical that the council deliver on its undertaking to complete the required works as expeditiously as possible as no further time slippage can be entertained.”

URGENT MEETING

Fermoy Rowing Club secretary Donal O’Keeffe is requesting an urgent meeting with the town council.

He told The Avondhu: “On the 16 of December 2009 the minister gave Fermoy Town Council a year to repair the damaged fish pass on Fermoy weir. The minister received a reply, on September 14, 2010, to the effect that the town council, in conjunction with the Office of Public Works, was in the process of drawing up detailed plans for the repair.

“As an acknowledged stake holder in the future of the Blackwater River in Fermoy, it is a matter of great concern to Fermoy Rowing Club that it took the town council nine months to reply to the minister.”

NO CONSULTATION

“Furthermore, in that time there has been no consultation whatsoever with us. Given that we established, at European level last year, that a simple repair of the damaged fish pass would satisfy Ireland’s obligations under the EU Habitats Directive and noting the minister’s re-stated concern at what he calls “further time slippage”, we are seeking an urgent meeting with the town council and with the Office of Public Works at the earliest opportunity.”

The Avondhu 7/10/10.

Posted by: fermoyweir | October 7, 2010

COUNCILLORS ROW IN BEHIND TOWN CLERK

Fermoy town councillor, Olive Corcoran has received no backing from any of her fellow councillors following her call last week for the town clerk to resign.

In an interview with The Avondhu, Cllr Corcoran had called for the Fermoy town council clerk to resign or, as she put it, ‘start doing his job’.

However, not one of Cllr Corcoran’s fellow public representatives supports her call.

MORE HARM

The Mayor of Fermoy, Cllr Pa O’Driscoll told The Avondhu, “I do not support the councillor’s call for the town clerk to resign. As far I am concerned I have views on how the council is run and how it should be run.

“I have discussed these with management in the past and will continue to do so as issues arise. Trade union directives not to engage with any new council committees that are formed is a problem but I am engaging with the trade unions and the management to try and resolve this.”

“There are appropriate and responsible ways for public representatives to raise concerns and if anyone of our elected representatives has a problem the media should not be the first port of call.

“While Cllr Corcoran may have a problem with council work going on behind closed doors, it is my opinion that this is sometimes necessary to allow for honest discussion and a united approach. Last week’s headlines have done more harm than good.”

ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS

The deputy mayor, Cllr Michael Hanley said that Cllr Corcoran’s comments were ridiculous, “Her comments are absolutely ridiculous and it shows an incredible lack of understanding as to how the work of Fermoy town council is carried out,” Cllr Hanley told The Avondhu.

Meanwhile, Cllr John Murphy agreed that there needs to be more communication between the town clerk and the councillors.

“I would not support Cllr Corcoran’s call for the town clerk to resign. I would, however, call on the town clerk and indeed the entire executive to be available more often. I feel there should be a weekly meeting between councillors and the staff at the town hall,” Cllr Murphy said.

WORK TOGETHER

Cllr Aileen Pyne commented, “I do not support Cllr Corcoran in her call for the town clerk to resign. We (the councillors) have no power when it comes to removal or appointment of staff at the town hall. If Fermoy is to prosper in the future we all need to work together.”

Cllr Seamus Coleman was disappointed that Cllr Corcoran chose to air her grievances with the town clerk in the local media.

“I don’t support Cllr Corcoran. I am one of the biggest critics of the town clerk but airing these grievances in the media is not the way forward,” Cllr Coleman said.

MORE FORCEFUL

Cllr Tadhg O’Donovan was more forceful in his reply to Cllr Corcoran, “I would not legitimise Cllr Corcoran’s remarks with a comment, ”Cllr O’Donovan told The Avondhu.

Cllr Noel McCarthy will also not be supporting Cllr Corcoran, “I will not support the councillor’s calls for the town clerk to resign, in fact to make a comment on her remarks would only add fuel to the fire,” Cllr McCarthy said.

Meanwhile, Cllr Colette Dolan Moore said, “There should be a lot more communication between the executive and the elected members however I cannot support Cllr Corcoran in her call for the town clerk to resign.”

OTHER VIEWS

While Cllr Corcoran’s fellow councillors would not support her calls for the town clerk to resign some residents of Fermoy have voiced their support.

Donal O’Keeffe told The Avondhu, “Councillors are undoubtedly well meaning, but a lot of them will say privately that they feel frustrated and unable to achieve anything as the executive holds all the power and is unwilling to share it. Personally, and I do stress that this is a personal opinion, I would be rather inclined to doubt that Councillor Olive Corcoran is alone in her views, whatever her colleagues will tell The Avondhu on the record. At this stage readers of The Avondhu are probably weary of our efforts to force Fermoy Town Council to address their responsibilities.

NINE MONTHS

Given a year to repair the weir, the town clerk took nine months to reply to Minister Conor Lenihan and then only to say that design plans are under way. Nine months. And, barring the acceptance of a worried telephone call from me in late June, in all that time there has been no consultation whatsoever with Fermoy Rowing Club or (to my knowledge) any of the other people who use the river.”

STANDS OVER CALL

In response to her fellow councillors remarks, Cllr Corcoran is adamant that she still stands over her call for the town clerk to resign.

“My main concern is for the future of Fermoy. I don’t believe in saying things behind closed doors. I don’t believe in decisions being made without the prior knowledge of the people of this town.

“I believe that everything should be out in the open; the councillors, the executive, the business people and the residents of Fermoy must plan for the future of the town. I will continue to call for changes to the town council as long as I am an elected representative for the people of Fermoy,” Cllr Corcoran concluded.

The Avondhu, 7/10/10.

I thank The Avondhu for granting me the right to reply to Councillor Michael Hanley. I write this in a personal capacity.

Fermoy Rowing Club is a vital part of the town and synonymous with the Blackwater. Without sponsorship and support from the local community we could not survive. Dating from 1884, we had an earlier incarnation as the Robert Emmett Brotherhood when we took to the water to the irritation of the occupying British Army.

With over eighty athletes under the age of eighteen and a fantastic group of Novices and Seniors on the water, we are moving also into Adaptive Rowing, a discipline which allows people with disabilities to take advantage of the sport. Like all of Fermoy we love the river. For training we depend on that glorious 3-mile stretch of river from Barnane to Castlehyde; that’s why we fought so hard to save Fermoy Weir. Take out the weir and you kill our club.

I thank Cllr Hanley for his kind words. I hope he knows that I hold him in the highest regard. He has given his life’s work to the betterment of Fermoy and like every other member of the Council he has only the best interests of the town at heart. In his Urbe et Orbi address, he calls the Fermoy Town Council “severely restricted in its capacity to deliver prompt results on every issue”. You can sing that, Michael.

What is the point of the Council? That’s not a cheap shot, but a genuine question. Why do we elect councillors and what do they do?

My understanding is that they have some policy-making power but their main responsibility is overseeing the running of the town by the Town Executive. Say what you like about our politicians but at least we get to evaluate their performance every five years and, if we choose, to fire them. Unlike the Executive. Some councillors will say privately that they are terribly frustrated that they can’t achieve anything because the Executive holds all the real power.

Last December the Town Council was given a year to repair the weir. They promptly spent the next six months trying to persuade the Minister to pay for the job. Although this failed, the Executive now says it’s all sorted out and the work will be done as part of the still untendered Phase II of the Flood Plan. The Minister’s office disputes this and says they haven’t received correspondence from the Executive. Who to trust? Local or national government? There’s a prisoner’s dilemma for you…

Cllr Hanley says the weir repair and ongoing maintenance bills will have to be footed by local ratepayers. “Hit me now with the ratepayer in me arms”, but he’s absolutely right. The problem with his point is this isn’t a sudden situation, foisted on the Council by uncaring external forces. The weir has belonged to the town for decades and successive Councils ignored their responsibility, causing the current problem.

You’d wonder, are there are any other surprises floating around out there?

Like the outstanding €15,000 VAT bill for pay-parking. Townspeople will get caught for this too. The Council can write to John Gormley all they want: they’ll be told that if a private business forgot to pay its VAT bill they’d know all about it pretty quickly. Somebody in the Town Hall dropped that ball too. Simple question: was it the councillors or the Executive?

Cllr Hanley makes the extraordinary remark that he is concerned with headlines about the weir distracting the town from “the very serious unemployment situation and the survival of our business community”. Those of us struggling to make ends meet from day-to-day really aren’t that easily distracted. But thanks for the concern.

Assuming, though, there won’t be a problem with salmon trapped at the weir between here and February, when the Executive promises, somewhat vaguely, that all of our problems will end, suppose we all agree not to mention the weir in that time. How many jobs will that save?

Maybe the local media should be controlled by the Council lest criticism of our Dear Leaders causes a flight of capital. The international bond markets could get spooked by “constant sniping”, so perhaps we can all stay on-message by establishing a Communications Authority in Pearse Square. It really must be awful for our representatives to have to live in a democracy with a free press. Perhaps they could emigrate?

Yes, criticism must be tiresome, especially given the way some councillors react to it, like a Taoiseach with a sore head. How do you think we feel? We’ve dealt with fifteen councillors, four TDs, three senators, four MEPs, five ministers and the Environment DG of the EU Commission. I’d buy Brian Cowen a pint just to complete the set.

Yet nothing has changed, even though councillors accuse us of raising doomsday scenarios and the Executive says everything’s fine. Salmon still have trouble getting through Fermoy, Inland Fisheries Ireland still wants to remove the weir, the EU is still watching, the Department still favours a rock ramp pass, an election could set us right back to the start, the deadline is blown and Fermoy Town Council still hasn’t fixed, as Cllr Hanley might say, the damn thing.

Somebody in the Town Hall is not on top of things.

Councillors come in for a lot of criticism, not all of it unfair, but every one of them is an intelligent, capable and thoroughly decent person who wants to see the town thrive. They have shown over the past year that they can overcome often bitter personal differences for the greater good. It can’t be beyond their wit to realise that, as our elected representatives, they have the legal and moral authority to remind the Executive that they too must be accountable.

So: no more back-chat from the likes of me, then. We’ll emerge next Spring to the strains of Vivaldi and the weir will be fixed.

Everything’s fine.

It is, isn’t it?

Donal O’Keeffe.

The Avondhu 30/9/2010

Posted by: fermoyweir | September 29, 2010

Fermoy Weir repair, 1960

Posted by: fermoyweir | September 24, 2010

ROWING CLUB SECRETARY COMES UNDER FIRE

The secretary of Fermoy Rowing Club was this week criticised for what town councillors have called his negative comments concerning the repair of the weir, writes Brian Moore.

In recent articles published in The Avondhu, rowing club secretary, Donal O’Keeffe has been highly critical of what he sees as the total lack of commitment and urgency shown by the town council in connection with the badly needed repair to the town’s historic weir.

MORE IMPORTANT

Responding to the issues raised at Tuesday night’s town council meeting, Mr O’Keeffe told The Avondhu, “As someone who lives in Fermoy I thought we were a town in serious trouble. If our council can afford the time to devote a significant portion of their monthly meeting to defending themselves against me then I’m a far more important person than I thought I was and our town’s economy is obviously in the pink of health.”

CONFIDENT OF REPAIR

Speaking to The Avondhu after the meeting Cllr Noel McCarthy was confident that the weir will be repaired.

“The council is working to get the weir repaired and, as councillors, we have gone as far as we can to ensure that the work is carried out. We have been in contact with the Office of Public Works (OPW) and they have confirmed that the work on the weir will begin when the second phase of the flood relief plan for the town gets underway next year. That’s the situation as things stand. The work will be done and Donal and the rowing club are aware of this,” Cllr McCarthy said.

BLOW IT TO BITS

However, Mr O’Keeffe does not share Cllr McCarty’s confidence that the repairs to the weir are in hand.

“Look, just because they (Fermoy Town Council) keep saying it’s sorted doesn’t actually mean it’s sorted. Minister Conor Lenihan could be gone tomorrow and we could be trying to persuade the likes of Leo Varadkar that, yeah, okay, we did drag our feet but sure look, give us another oul’ cut off it, can’t you?

“Likewise, Inland Fisheries Ireland could continue to do their job and blow the weir to bits if salmon can’t get over the weir. I really don’t mean to be so negative but, in my defence, I have been dealing with Fermoy Town Council for four long years now,” Donal O’Keeffe concluded.

The Avondhu (23/09/2010)

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