In the Dail

PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION No. 35
Dail Eireann  

To ask the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources the position regarding the weir on the River Blackwater at Fermoy, County Cork; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

 – David Stanton. 

For ORAL answer on Tuesday, 1st June, 2010.
Ref No:   23053/10     Lottery:   9     Proof:   30
REPLY


Minister of State at the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Mr. C. Lenihan)
 

  

The Deputy will be aware of the background in relation to fish passage at the Fermoy weir and the need to ensure compliance with the Habitats Directive in this regard.
On taking up responsibility for the inland fisheries brief, I reviewed the approach to resolving the barrier to fish passage at Fermoy.  I was aware of the importance of ensuring that progress was made and the need to avoid further delays.

  

 

I wish to emphasise to the House that at no time has the removal of the weir ever been contemplated for the purpose of addressing the barrier to fish passage or installing a rock ramp pass. I have made major efforts to engage with the Council, the rowing club and other interests in Fermoy, including local Deputies, in order to discuss their concerns in relation to this matter and their views on how the requirements for rowing and fish passage could be met.
On foot of my discussions with interested parties and contacts with the European Commission and the Attorney General, I agreed to afford the Council an opportunity to implement its preferred solution of repairing the existing fish passes in the weir. That was not an easy decision for me to make in the light of the technical advice I received which stated that the repaired pass would not solve all the problems of fish passage. I have given the Council every opportunity to act immediately and with speed to carry out the works they envisage in the repair of the existing fish pass. I now urge Fermoy Town Council to carry out the works as directed.  I would add that I also made it abundantly clear that if that solution did not work, then I would have no alternative, indeed no hesitation, in requiring the rock ramp proposal to proceed.  

_____________________________________________
 From the Adjournment Debate 26/5/2010
Inland Fisheries

Deputy Seán Sherlock: Information Zoom  This issue boils down to some simple facts. Fermoy Town Council has been instructed to fix a fish pass on the River Blackwater in Fermoy to adhere to an edict from the European Commission handed down on foot of a complaint by persons or bodies unknown on the matter of the impediment to fish swimming up river west of Fermoy. The local council does not have the means to pay for the repair of the fish pass, which is protected and which the council owns. The estimated cost of repair is €100,000. The Department is unwilling to cover the cost of the repairs. Last Christmas, the Minister of State, Deputy Conor Lenihan, gave Fermoy Town Council until the end of 2010 to repair the damaged fish pass at Fermoy weir to become compliant on foot of the complaint to the EU Commission. 

The Southern Regional Fisheries Board, which may or may not have been the originators of the complaint and which favours the replacement of the weir with a rock ramp pass, when asked through a freedom of information request about its involvement in the matter informed the secretary of the Rowing Club, Mr. Donal O’Keeffe, that old files were destroyed in a flood in 2009. In the meantime, the Minister of State, Deputy Conor Lenihan, informed Fermoy Rowing Club last week that he is deeply concerned no progress has been made in the past six months. He went on to indicate that the rock ramp would definitely happen if Fermoy Town Council does not repair the fish pass. When informed that the council has no money to effect these repairs, the Minister of State made it clear it is the duty of Fermoy Town Council, as owners of the weir, a protected structure, to find the money somewhere. The Minister said that he cannot give them money towards the cost of repairs to the fish pass. However, the Government, of which the Minister is a member, is willing spend a multiple of €100,000 in order to install a rock ramp pass at the behest of the Southern Regional Fisheries Board 

Incidentally, there is no indication that the EU Commission has instructed the Government to install a rock ramp pass but it was satisfied that the repair of the fish pass was sufficient. In the meantime, we still do not know how many salmon are moving up river, because there is no fish counter in Fermoy town. 

We all want to see fish being caught on the rod, and I do not particularly wish to see the Duke of Devonshire taking the lion’s share of the spoils below in Clondulane weir, but we must ensure that there is a balance struck between ensuring that fish have safe passage and guarding the future of the rowing club. 

Let the Government assist with the cost of the repair of the fish pass and install a fish counter in Fermoy. Let common sense prevail. 

Deputy Conor Lenihan: Information Zoom  I welcome the Deputy raising this evening the impact of fish migration at the weir in Fermoy, which is in the ownership of Fermoy Town Council. The Deputy’s acknowledgement of the need to ensure adequate fish passage on the River Blackwater, in order to comply with our obligations under European law, is also to be welcomed. 

The council, which acquired the weir some years ago, is responsible, as are other weir owners, for the maintenance and upkeep of the weir. Following a complaint to the European Commission and the technical investigations undertaken subsequently, the town council was directed to reduce the barrier effect of the weir on the migration of certain protected fish species, in order to ensure compliance with the EU habitats directive. The council was also directed to ensure that the activities of the local rowing club were not adversely affected by the works necessary to ensure the passage of migratory fish. 

On taking up responsibility for the inland fisheries brief, I reviewed the approach to resolving the barrier to fish passage at Fermoy. I was aware of the importance of making progress to deal with problems of fish passage and was anxious to avoid any further delays in this regard. Accordingly, I actively engaged with the town council and the local rowing club on the matter, in terms of how they considered their needs could also be met. I listened carefully to the arguments of the council and local rowing club and their strong view that an alternative to the rock ramp proposal would provide a viable solution to the issue of fish passage at Fermoy. 

While the advice available to me differs from this position, having listened to the arguments of the council and rowing club, I agreed to afford the council, the owner of the weir, an opportunity to implement its preferred solution of repairing the existing fish passes on the weir. I have made huge efforts to go towards the council, the rowing club and other interests in Fermoy, including local Deputies, so that I can accommodate their obvious concerns in this area. I now urge them to continue to do and complete the works as directed. I would add that I also made it abundantly clear that if that solution did not work, then I would have no alternative, indeed no hesitation, in requiring the rock ramp proposal to proceed. 

To give practical effect to my decision, I revoked the original 2006 direction and issued a new direction in December 2009 to the Fermoy Town Council under section 116 of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959. That direction required the council to undertake immediate repairs to the existing damaged fish passes in the weir in order to reduce the barrier effect of the weir on migratory fish species. 

In light of my discussions with the European Commission authorities, having listened to the council and the rowing club and having had the advice of the Attorney General, as the chief law officer to the Government, I came to the conclusion that affording the council an opportunity to explore its preferred solution of the repair of the existing fish passes was the appropriate immediate action. That was not an easy decision for me to make in the light of the technical and scientific advice I was being given by my Department. I have given the council every opportunity to act immediately and with speed to repair and make the relatively minor works envisaged by the repair of the existing fish pass. 

 Deputy Seán Sherlock: Information Zoom  What about the cost arguments? 

Deputy Conor Lenihan: Information Zoom  If that is done, there is every chance the rowing club and all of the local interests, political and otherwise, can and will be satisfied. If people do not move quickly, I, given my EU obligations, will have no option but to act in the other direction, which is where the technical and scientific advice is leading me. 

All parties involved must, however, recognise the conservation imperative here in our management of salmon stocks and appreciate that Ireland is a committed member of the European Union. We are equally dedicated to meeting our responsibilities under EC law. I have created an opportunity for the council to demonstrate that its preferred solution of repair to the fish passes offers a viable solution to the issue of fish passage at Fermoy. 

I flew directly to Brussels to consult with the EU Commission on this matter. I am satisfied, given the advice I have received from the Commission and the Attorney General, that we have an opportunity here. The council’s most favoured option, and that of many local interests, to repair the fish pass can and should be executed but it should be executed quickly. Further delay will not be helpful. It is now a matter for Fermoy Town Council, the owners of the weir, to implement its proposals in 2010 and monitor their effectiveness. In creating this opportunity, I would stress that there is no dilution of Ireland’s commitment to meeting its obligations in relation to protected species under the habitats directive. 

The effect of the repairs proposed on fish migration will be closely monitored and if the required improvement in fish migration is not achieved, I have made it clear that I will not hesitate to direct the town council to undertake further major works. I will be seeking a progress report from the town council on this matter. 

I have always made it clear that the work was to be undertaken without delay and have urged the council to seize the opportunity that I have presented, as further delays in addressing this issue will not be acceptable. I am acutely aware of Ireland’s obligations under the habitats directive and our reliance on the town council to provide the for improved fish passage on the River Blackwater. I am anxious that the repair works should be carried out as soon as possible in 2010. 

I thank the Deputy for raising this matter again. Whatever about the protestations and claims of not having resources, the town council should go ahead with the relatively minor works. The other works are extremely expensive. 

Deputy Seán Sherlock: Information Zoom  Even minor works are unaffordable to the town council. The Minister of State’s response is wholly inadequate and quite disingenuous. 

Deputy Conor Lenihan: Information Zoom  I must respond to that. I have moved hugely and extraordinarily to assist the people in Fermoy. I have spoken to them directly. It is now up to them to deliver. 

From the Seanad debate on Waterways Development (25/3/2010) 

Senator Paul Bradford: Information Zoom  I welcome the incoming Chief Whip, the Minister of State, Deputy Curran. I congratulate him on his appointment as Minister of State and Chief Whip. I wish him success in his position. 

 I want to speak about a situation causing grave concern in Fermoy, the repair and development of Fermoy weir. The idea of being careful lest one gets what one wishes for applies to Fermoy Town Council and those concerned about the repair of the weir in Fermoy. The project to repair the weir and the fish pass stemmed from a request from the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources arising from the European directives that applied to the Department. The initial proposal submitted by the Department would have resulted in the ruin of the weir in Fermoy. The weir is famous in Fermoy, County Cork, throughout the country and to many people from Europe who have enjoyed the scenery and the amenity.
 
As a result of grave concerns in the locality about the replacement of the fish weir as envisaged by the Department, discussion was led by Fermoy Town Council and supported by local clubs such as Fermoy Rowing Club, which presented an alternative to the original suggestion. The Department intended to replace the weir with a 62 m rock ramp. The project was estimated to cost €250,000 and would be paid for by the Office of Public Works. This matter was the subject of debate between the council, the OPW and the Department. Last December progress was made when the Minister of State, Deputy Conor Lenihan, became involved in discussions and visited the town and examined the project. He appeared to come to the conclusion that the original plan for the replacement of the weir, with the work carried out by the OPW, could be substituted by Fermoy Town Council carrying out the work. The town council had a more straightforward proposal costing slightly more than half the original amount, some €150,000. The proposal was welcomed by local interest groups and Fermoy Rowing Club and seemed the solution to the problem.
 
A new problem has now emerged. The original project was to be paid for by the OPW or some arm of the State. The Minister of State has now proclaimed that the project, which he permitted to be carried out by Fermoy Town Council, must be paid for locally and completed by next December. Not surprisingly, neither Fermoy Town Council nor Cork County Council has this amount of funding. We are in the unusual situation whereby a project is desirable, the plan is acceptable and the project costs less than the one originally approved but cannot be completed because of the lack of funding at local authority level. Little joy has been had by the town council in recent meetings between it and the Minister of State and subsequent communication with the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Deputy Mansergh. The fear is that if the project cannot be carried out by Fermoy Town Council, the original project, which is not deemed desirable, will go ahead and will cost the taxpayer an additional €100,000.
 
I ask the Minister of State to comment on the matter and to use his good offices to liaise with the Minister of State, Deputy Conor Lenihan, to see if the money can be provided by his Department. It makes little sense that the Department, having been willing to spend €250,000 some months ago on a project that divided the town, is unwilling to spend a lesser sum on a project that would resolve the problem and unite the interest groups in the town, such as councillors, Fermoy Rowing Club and the amenity groups. A degree of common sense would solve this problem and bring about the right result. It would save the taxpayer €100,000 and resolve this long running dispute. A little common sense and negotiations between the various Government agencies would be desirable and useful at this stage. 

Deputy John Curran: Information Zoom  I thank the Senator for his kind comments. I am taking this matter on behalf of the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. 

Protecting and enhancing our inland fisheries are core objectives of our inland fisheries strategy and requirements of EU law under the habitats directive. In this regard, I welcome the matter of the weir at Fermoy which is in the ownership of Fermoy Town Council being raised on the Adjournment this evening, as it was in the Dail earlier this month. The council which acquired the weir some years ago is, like other weir owners, responsible for its maintenance and upkeep. Following a complaint to the European Commission and technical studies undertaken thereafter, the council is aware of the need to reduce the barrier effect of the weir on the migration of certain protected fish species, including salmon and lamprey, to ensure compliance with the EU habitats directive.
 
Since taking up responsibility for the inland fisheries brief, the Minister reviewed the approach to resolving the barrier to fish passage at Fermoy up to December 2009. He was anxious that progress be made to deal with problems of fish passage and actively engaged with the town council on the matter and the local rowing club in terms of how their needs could also be met. He listened carefully to the arguments of the council and the local rowing club and their strong view that an alternative to the rock ramp proposal would provide a viable solution to the issue of fish passage at Fermoy. While the technical advice to the Minister differs from this position, having listened to the arguments of the council and rowing club, he agreed to afford the council, the owner of the weir, an opportunity to implement its preferred solution of repairing the existing fish passes on the weir. He also made it abundantly clear that if that solution did not work, he would have no alternative or hesitation in requiring the rock ramp proposal to proceed.
 
To give practical effect to his decision, the Minister exercised his power to revoke the original direction issued in 2006 in favour of the order given to the town council under section 116 of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959 to undertake immediate repairs to the existing damaged fish ladder situated in the weir in order to reduce the barrier effect of the weir on migratory fish species. In the light of his discussions with the European Commission authorities, having listened to the council and the rowing club and received the advice of the Attorney General, as the chief legal adviser to the Government, he came to the conclusion that affording the council an opportunity to explore its preferred solution of the repair of the existing fish ladder was the appropriate immediate action. All parties involved must appreciate, however, that Ireland is a committed member of the European Union in terms of meeting its responsibilities under EU law, including obligations in regard to biodiversity and, in particular, to the protection of species and habitats under the habitats directive.
 
The Minister has created an opportunity for the town council to demonstrate that its preferred solution of repair of the fish pass offers a viable solution to the issue of fish passage at Fermoy. This opportunity has been provided for the council, notwithstanding the technical advice to him. It is now a matter for council to implement its proposals and monitor their effectiveness. In creating this opportunity, the Minister stresses that there is no dilution of Ireland’s commitment to meeting its responsibilities under EU law, including obligations on protected species under the habitats directive. The effect of the repairs proposed on fish migration will be closely monitored and if the required improvement in fish migration is not achieved, the Minister has made it clear that he will not hesitate to direct the council to undertake further major works.
 
The Minister has recently been advised by the town council that it estimates the cost of its proposal to be in the region of €100,000 to €150,000. From the consultants’ report commissioned by the council, I gather there are higher ongoing maintenance costs associated with the proposed repairs also. I repeat that the decision of December 2009 affords the council the opportunity to pursue its preferred solution. It is not realistic to expect a Minister to 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.
 
I understand the works on the weir do not contribute to the separate flood relief project and, therefore, the costs are not attributable or appropriate to that project. However, it is open to the town council to seek to come to some financial arrangement to have the works linked with the flood relief works, if possible. The onus rests with the local authority to maintain the structure it values and protects so enthusiastically, in the same way it funds and maintains other important infrastructure in its ownership.
 
I fully appreciate that the need to remedy the problems of barrier to fish migration at Fermoy has been contentious, but I hope the decision the Minister has made will enable rapid progress to be achieved. I urge the town council to expedite the repairs and engage actively with the fisheries board to monitor their impact. 

From the Dail: Fermoy Weir and Flood Relief Tuesday, 2nd March 2010 

Deputy David Stanton: I thank the office of the Ceann Comhairle for allowing me to raise this important matter, namely, funding for the repair of the weir and fish pass in Fermoy, County Cork. I thank, in particular, the Minister of State, Deputy Conor Lenihan, for coming before the House. I am aware of his personal interest in the matter and that he has visited Fermoy on occasion to familiarise himself with it. 

When I raised this issue approximately one year ago, I was informed that a rock fish ramp was required. I understand this is no longer the case and the Department’s scientific committee has indicated that the number of salmon upstream of the weir is surplus to quota. Notwithstanding this, the weir in Fermoy needs to be repaired as a matter of urgency. The fish pass, although adequate, also needs to be repaired. Funding is required for both projects. At long last, a flood relief scheme is being proceeded with in Fermoy. I hope the new scheme will be as successful as the one in Mallow. With workers, contractors and the Office of Public Works on the ground, this is an opportune time to carry out repair works on the fish pass and weir. 

I have been asked to bring to the attention of the Minister the concerns of Fermoy Rowing Club. I have been informed the Minister is aware of these concerns and has walked the Blackwater River and noted the issues that arise. The rowing club welcomes the proposed implementation of phase 2 of the flood alleviation scheme and is cautiously optimistic that the Office of Public Works will address its needs and concerns. Initially, the club was assured that the plans to erect a permanent, continuous 1.3 m high wall along the quay from the youth centre to the rowing club were open to qualification. The erection of such a wall would make it difficult, if not impossible, for the club to place boats on the river during regattas, training sessions and so forth. 

The club is seeking the erection of demountable walls or movable gates as part of the barrier to enable rowers to launch boats on the river. It wants this issue to be addressed in conjunction with the other works being undertaken in the area. The minimum requirement is that any proposed permanent structure contain two breaks of at least 75 ft. each to facilitate daily training and the launch of boats during regattas. This clearance is needed to launch an eight person rowing boat which is 63 ft. in length. Any new permanent structure would compromise the club’s slipway and require it to be extended and renovated. The rowing club understands from consultations with engineers that its proposals are feasible. 

I ask the Minister of State to raise the matter with the Office of Public Works to ensure all the relevant bodies come together. Fermoy Town Council and residents want these works which are both practical and possible to be carried out, as they would safeguard the rowing club, fish in the river and the beautiful weir, a landmark, of which the people of Fermoy and north County Cork are proud. I hope the Minister of State will discuss this matter with his colleagues. Let us see sense because it was left unattended for long enough. The problem has almost been solved. I hope the Minister of State, with his pragmatic, practical way of doing things, will have the matter sorted out to allow us to move on. 

Deputy Conor Lenihan: I thank Deputy Stanton for raising this matter. Protecting and enhancing our inland fisheries is a core objective of our inland fisheries strategy and a requirement of EU law under the habitats directive. In this regard, I welcome the matter of the weir at Fermoy being raised on the Adjournment. The weir is in the ownership of Fermoy Town Council. The council, which acquired the weir some years ago, is responsible, as are other weir owners, for the maintenance and upkeep of the weir. 

Following a complaint to the European Commission and technical studies taken thereafter, the town council is aware of the need to reduce the barrier effect of the weir on the migration of certain protected fish species, including salmon and lamprey, to ensure compliance with the EU habitats directive. Since taking up responsibility for the inland fisheries brief, I reviewed the approach to resolving the barrier to fish passage at Fermoy up to December 2009. 

I was anxious that progress be made to deal with problems of fish passage and actively engaged with the town council on the matter as well as the local rowing club and angling interests in terms of how their needs could also be met. I listened carefully to the strong arguments of the council, local rowing club and anglers, that an alternative to the rock-ramp proposal would provide a viable solution to the issue of fish passage at Fermoy. While the technical and scientific advice to me differs from this position, having listened to the arguments of the council and rowing club, I agreed to afford the council – which is the owner of the weir – an opportunity to implement its own preferred solution of repairing the existing fish passes on the weir. 

I also made it abundantly clear that if that solution did not work, I would have no alternative – indeed, no hesitation – in requiring the rock-ramp proposal to proceed. To give practical effect to my decision, I exercised my power to revoke the original direction issued in 2006, in favour of the order given to the Fermoy Town Council, under section 116 of the Fisheries (Consolidation) Act 1959, to undertake immediate repairs to the existing damaged fish ladder situated in the weir to reduce the barrier effect of the weir on migratory fish species. In light of my discussions with the European Commission authorities, having listened to the council, the rowing club and the anglers – and having had the advice of the Attorney General, as the chief legal adviser to the Government – I came to the conclusion that affording the council an opportunity to explore its preferred solution to repair the existing fish ladder is the appropriate immediate action. 

This will obviously need to be monitored closely from a fish passage perspective. I hope the council will work closely with local or regional fisheries officers to ensure that the optimum result is obtained. All parties involved must, however, appreciate that Ireland is a member of the European Union and thus committed to meeting its responsibilities under EU law, including obligations on biodiversity, and in particular to protection of species and habitats under the habitats directive. 

I have created an opportunity for the council to demonstrate that its preferred solution to repair the fish pass offers a viable solution to the issue of fish passage at Fermoy. This opportunity has been provided to the council notwithstanding the technical advice to me and it is now a matter for Fermoy Town Council, the owners of the weir, to implement its proposals and monitor their effectiveness. In creating this opportunity, I stress there is no dilution of Ireland’s commitment to meeting its responsibilities under EU law, including obligations on protected species under the habitats directive. The effect of the repairs proposed on fish migration will be closely monitored and if the required improvement in fish migration is not achieved, I will not hesitate to direct the town council to undertake further major works. 

I understand that the works on the weir do not contribute to the separate flood relief project. The costs are therefore not attributable or appropriate to that project, which is being funded and managed by the Office of Public Works. The onus rests with the local authority to maintain the structure it values and protects so zealously, in the same way that it funds and maintains other important infrastructure in its ownership. 

 Deputy David Stanton: It does not have the money. 

Deputy Conor Lenihan: I fully appreciate that the need to remedy the problems of a barrier to fish migration at Fermoy has been contentious, but I hope the decision I have made will enable rapid progress to be achieved. I urge the council to expedite the repairs and engage actively with the fisheries board to monitor their impact. I again thank the Deputy for raising this matter. I also thank the people I met in Fermoy who made submissions to me on this matter. 

Deputy David Stanton: They have no money. 

… 

From the Dail debate on flooding, November 24th, 2009: 

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I call Deputy Seán Sherlock. 

Deputy Seán Sherlock: I understand I have five minutes and that I am sharing time with—— 

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Deputy has five minutes. I understand he is sharing time with Deputy Tuffy, who has another five minutes. 

Deputy Seán Sherlock: I refer to the praise meted out to the Fourth Estate. My colleagues may have inadvertently forgotten to mention Jonathan Healy of Newstalk, Ralph Riegel of the Irish Independent, Barry Roche of The Irish Times, and all the staff in the Evening Echo. (Interruptions). Deputy Seán Sherlock: Paschal Sheehy may have been on holidays but I understand he was here with us in spirit. I hail from the town of Mallow, which is in the flood plain. Mallow has been flooding since Adam was a boy but the events of recent days have proven that the flood alleviation works have worked very well for the town. 

The flood defences for the first phase worked extremely well. It is important to acknowledge when work is carried out successfully. 

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Deputy Sherlock must be going for the Presidency. 

Deputy Seán Sherlock: I humbly give praise to the members of Mallow Town Council and its staff. I refer to George O’Malley and the lads who put on the oilskins and go out year after year when flooding occurs. There is no fuss. They just get on with the job because that is what they do. They do not want praise for it but that work is worthy of acknowledgement because they do it year in, year out. This year they were out with the demountable walls, working with the area and town engineers, and had those defences up in no time. That must be acknowledged also. 

I acknowledge the Minister’s statement on the start of phase one in Fermoy but issues remain concerning the clean-up there. At the risk of being parochial, both sides of the river, particularly at Rathealy Road, Francis Street, Thomas Street, Greenhill and Brian Boru Square on the north side, are all badly affected. If some form of aid is to be made available, I ask that those residents be eligible for it, as should the people on the south side, particularly at Ashe Quay, the mart road, O’Neill Crowley Quay, Elbow Lane and Tallow Road, which were all badly hit. It has been said to me that the Fermoy flood was the worst in the past 25 years. That should be on the record because while we agree the works will commence shortly in Fermoy, some damage remains arising from the flood works in that area. 

I ask the Department to examine the damage that has been done and look favourably on the residents and the businesses in that area. There is a stoicism among people who are born in the flood, so to speak. They get on with life and do the business, but what seems to have characterised the flood events throughout the rest of the country is that they would not normally occur in those areas. While we will deal with the problems in Fermoy and Mallow, and I visited south Galway at the weekend to see the damage done, it is vital that other parts of the country are examined in the same way as Mallow and Fermoy. 

It is important that the flood alleviation works due to be carried out in Fermoy do not compromise the amenity that is the rowing club. There are proposals to carry out works on the weir on the Blackwater in Fermoy but we are concerned they will have a negative impact on the rowing club. I am aware the Minister made some public statements about that in recent days and I hope he will look favourably on the fact that there is a rowing club in the area and that this amenity cannot be compromised in any way. It is particularly ironic that some members of the Fianna Fáil Party blame the flooding events on bad planning in certain parts of the country. They might revisit some of their statements in that sense.

by Deputy David Stanton
for ORAL ANSWER on Thursday, 11th December, 2008.
 

To ask the Minister for Finance the plans of the Office of Public Works in
relation to carrying out works on the weir in Fermoy, County Cork; the
progress made in resolving certain issues in relation to the rowing club in
the town; and if he will make a statement on the matter. 

– David Stanton TD 

REPLY. 

The  Office  of  Public Works has agreed in principle to a request from the 

Department  of  Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, to facilitate 

the  construction  of a rock ramp fish pass at Fermoy Weir in the course of 

the  execution of the proposed Flood Relief Scheme Works. This agreement is 

subject  to  the  proviso  that  the  proposal  is  agreed with Fermoy Town 

Council,  and  that  its inclusion will not delay the progress of the Flood 

Relief Scheme. 

In facilitating construction of the fish pass, OPW would be acting as agent 

for  the  Department  of  Communications,  Energy and Natural Resources and 

Fermoy  Town  Council,  which it is understood is the owner of the weir and 

which will be required to maintain the works. 

Design  of  the  rock ramp fish pass and consultation with the Town Council 

and   other   stakeholders   is  being  undertaken  by  the  Department  of 

Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. 

I  am  aware  that  Fermoy Rowing Club has expressed reservations about the 

impact  of  the proposed fish pass on its activities and that the matter is 

also  of  concern  to  the Town Council and to inhabitants of the town. The 

Department   of   Communications,   Energy   and   Natural   Resources  has 

responsibility  for  dealing  with  these  issues, but the Office of Public 

Works  is  happy  to  assist  the  Department  with  a  view to seeing them 

resolved. 

The  Office  of Public Works expects to invite tenders for the Flood Relief 

Scheme within the next week.
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From the Flood Debate in the Dail on 24th of November 2009: 

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information Zoom  I call Deputy Seán Sherlock. 

 

Deputy Seán Sherlock: Information Zoom  I understand I have five minutes and that I am sharing time with—— 

 

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information Zoom  The Deputy has five minutes. I understand he is sharing time with Deputy Tuffy, who has another five minutes. 

 

Deputy Seán Sherlock: Information Zoom  I refer to the praise meted out to the Fourth Estate. My colleagues may have inadvertently forgotten to mention Jonathan Healy of Newstalk, Ralph Riegel of the Irish Independent, Barry Roche of The Irish Times, and all the staff in the Evening Echo

 

(Interruptions). 

 

Deputy Seán Sherlock: Information Zoom  Paschal Sheehy may have been on holidays but I understand he was here with us in spirit. 

 

I hail from the town of Mallow, which is in the flood plain. Mallow has been flooding since Adam was a boy but the events of recent days have proven that the flood alleviation works have worked very well for the town. The flood defences for the first phase worked extremely well. It is important to acknowledge when work is carried out successfully. 

 

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information Zoom  Deputy Sherlock must be going for the Presidency. 

 

Deputy Seán Sherlock: Information Zoom  I humbly give praise to the members of Mallow Town Council and its staff. I refer to George O’Malley and the lads who put on the oilskins and go out year after year when flooding occurs. There is no fuss. They just get on with the job because that is what they do. They do not want praise for it but that work is worthy of acknowledgement because they do it year in, year out. This year they were out with the demountable walls, working with the area and town engineers, and had those defences up in no time. That must be acknowledged also. 

 

I acknowledge the Minister’s statement on the start of phase one in Fermoy but issues remain concerning the clean-up there. At the risk of being parochial, both sides of the river, particularly at Rathealy Road, Francis Street, Thomas Street, Greenhill and Brian Boru Square on the north side, are all badly affected. If some form of aid is to be made available, I ask that those residents be eligible for it, as should the people on the south side, particularly at Ashe Quay, the mart road, O’Neill Crowley Quay, Elbow Lane and Tallow Road, which were all badly hit. It has been said to me that the Fermoy flood was the worst in the past 25 years. That should be on the record because while we agree the works will commence shortly in Fermoy, some damage remains arising from the flood works in that area. I ask the Department to examine the damage that has been done and look favourably on the residents and the businesses in that area. 

 

There is a stoicism among people who are born in the flood, so to speak. They get on with life and do the business, but what seems to have characterised the flood events throughout the rest of the country is that they would not normally occur in those areas. While we will deal with the problems in Fermoy and Mallow, and I visited south Galway at the weekend to see the damage done, it is vital that other parts of the country are examined in the same way as Mallow and Fermoy. 

 

It is important that the flood alleviation works due to be carried out in Fermoy do not compromise the amenity that is the rowing club. There are proposals to carry out works on the weir on the Blackwater in Fermoy but we are concerned they will have a negative impact on the rowing club. I am aware the Minister made some public statements about that in recent days and I hope he will look favourably on the fact that there is a rowing club in the area and that this amenity cannot be compromised in any way. 

 

It is particularly ironic that some members of the Fianna Fáil Party blame the flooding events on bad planning in certain parts of the country. They might revisit some of their statements in that sense. 

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