Posted by: fermoyweir | December 17, 2009

Not a bad end to our 125th Anniversary

(From a letter to The Avondhu newspaper dated Christmas Eve 2009.)

 A Chara,
 
On Monday the 21st of December 2009, Minister Conor Lenihan told Fermoy Rowing Club that he had signed a Ministerial Order for the repair of Fermoy Weir by the careful restoration of the salmon ladder to its original state. Your readers might recall a recent photograph in The Avondhu depicting the same job being done some fifty years ago. The Minister believes that doing so will aid the free passage of salmon through the town and he thinks it important that the passage of fish should be carefully monitored thereafter. By travelling to Brussels he has confirmed that which we already established last summer, that if this work is carried out then the EU would be satisfied that Ireland is addressing this matter. He has said that the Attorney General is of the opinion that doing so will meet Ireland’s legal obligations under the EU Habitats Directive.
 
We in Fermoy Rowing welcome this as a significant breakthrough and thank Minister Lenihan for his commitment to finding a fair and workable solution to this matter. We would thank also the local community for its unswerving support throughout this long campaign. Our friends in the local angling clubs have been with us every step of the way, as have been the members of every other sporting club in the town.
 
We have been served well by our public representatives too in this regard. Sean Sherlock has advised and supported us from the beginning of this ordeal. David Stanton has asked questions in the House and Michael Ahern and Ned O’Keeffe have both worked tirelessly from within to negotiate an equitable outcome. We could not have asked any more from our TDs.  At European level Kathy Sinnott’s interventions proved pivotal to a successful outcome. Our councillors, at town and county levels, have played perhaps a more significant role than might be recognised.
 
Last month, Fermoy Town Council, as part of the Draft Development Plan 2016, upgraded the  status of Fermoy Weir to that of a protected structure. It is our understanding that officials from the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (DCENR) did everything in their power to attempt to force a reversal of this decision at County Council level.  

Ned O’Keeffe TD (who like his constituency colleagues has been a huge support to us over the years) suggested on C103FM on Friday that for the Minister’s proposed repairs to be carried out it would be necessary for the County and/or Town Councils to revoke the protected status of Fermoy Weir. Minister Lenihan (and one of his advisors) denied this suggestion in telephone conversations with Fermoy Rowing Club immediately after the interview.
 
The legal advice received by Fermoy Rowing Club is that necessary repairs for the upkeep of a protected structure would not require planning permission.
 
Ned very generously calls the latest development in this saga “a victory for people power” and so it is. However, a significant contributory factor has been that the protected status of the weir would have necessitated planning permission for the DCENR to effect their Rock Ramp Pass proposals. This consideration was behind their previous efforts to lump their scheme in with the current Flood Alleviation Plan, a trick which would have got them around that obstacle.
 
With success in sight, we would urge our councillors to resist any efforts to revoke the protected status of Fermoy Weir. Town and County Councillors are often targetted for easy criticism but it should be not be forgotten that the councillors have played a huge role in this and we call on them now to hold the line. 
 
Is mise le meas,
 
Donal O’Keeffe
Hon. Secretary
 
Fermoy Rowing Club.

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