Posted by: fermoyweir | May 26, 2010

100 Days to Save Fermoy Weir

100 days left to save Fermoy Weir.
Last Christmas Minister of State Conor Lenihan TD gave Fermoy Town Council until the end of 2010 to repair the damaged fish pass in Fermoy Weir. The Southern Regional Fisheries Board, which favours the replacement of the weir, will only allow in-river work to be carried out in the months of June, July and August. That leaves less than one hundred days to save the weir or see it replaced with a Rock Ramp Pass. Fermoy Rowing Club says that this lower structure, which it believes will be hazardous to river users, will shrink the Blackwater river upstream and cause the 126 year old club, which has eighty members under the age of 18, to close. 
Fermoy Rowing Club was told by the Minister last week that he is deeply concerned that no progress has been made in the last six months. Mr Lenihan went on to say that the Rock Ramp is definitely going to happen if Fermoy Town Council fails to repair the fish pass. When told that the Council has no money to effect these repairs, he made it clear that it is the duty of Fermoy Town Council, as the owners of the weir, which is a protected structure, to find the money somewhere. The Minister said that he cannot give them a penny.
Under procurement rules, publicly funded works must go to tender if they cross a threshold of €120,000. Fermoy Rowing Club believes the weir could be restored for less than one hundred thousand euro. They point out that there is an engineering firm with the necessary skills and equipment on-site right now, working on the on-going Fermoy Flood Plan.

Members of the Rowing Club and representatives of local angling clubs travelled last year to Brussels to establish the facts of this case but were unable get a straight answer from the Irish Government as to the precise cost of the proposed Rock Ramp Pass. They say that there is reason to believe it would start around €350,000. The final bill for the same job in Kilkenny hit €58 million.

At this time of national crisis, how can Ireland afford to waste vast amounts of public money on such an unnecessary, unwanted and potentially dangerous structure when a listed, functional and very beautiful part of the town’s history can be repaired for a comparatively small amount?
Fermoy Town Councillors were told by Conor Lenihan TD earlier this year that they should lobby the constituency’s two government TDs to in turn appeal to him for financial support. However, the Minister later informed Fermoy Rowing Club that he could not fund an intervention that he as been advised is an inadequate response to the issue of fish passage, nor could such be authorised under public financial procedures.
At this stage, and with Fermoy Town Council pleading poverty, Fermoy Rowing Club is appealing directly to Michael Ahern TD and Ned O’Keeffe TD for help. This is their opportunity to show their support for the town of Fermoy. Minister Lenihan has made it clear that otherwise the end of August will mark the end for Fermoy Weir and with it the end for Fermoy Rowing Club.


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