Fáilte Ireland has been urged to review its decision not to provide funding to Cork County Council for a major upgrade of facilities at Spike Island, which has been voted Europe’s leading tourist attraction, writes Sean O'Riordan.
The island beat off the challenge of the Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace, and the Colosseum in Rome to win the prestigious award.
More than €6m has so far been spent on upgrading facilities on Spike Island, which is owned by Cork County Council. A portion of that was funded by the tourism body.
However, further major work stalled on the project after Fáilte Ireland declined to help fund a €7.1m county council plan which proposed additional restoration work, new exhibition centres, a visitor centre and ‘themed’ train connection to and from from the island pier.
Chairman of the Cobh municipal district council Cllr Padraig O’Sullivan said he would introduce an emergency motion at its meeting today to ask Fáilte Ireland to financially support phase two of the project.
“Spike Island is now considered to be of international importance. The value of this win can’t be underestimated and Fáilte Ireland has to realise that and invest in it now,” he said.
The Port of Cork and Cobh and Harbour Chamber both want a meeting called with all stakeholders to put a clear roadmap in place for further development on the island.
Port of Cork commercial manager Captain Michael McCarthy said the port authority is planning to build a multipurpose berth at Lynch Quay, Cobh, that will provide a year-round sea-bus terminal to service Spike Island.
He said waterbus transport was being planned for tourists to access Fort Camden, Monkstown, Ringaskiddy and Cork City which could also be used by cruise liner passengers.
Declan Daly, the county council’s deputy chief executive, said the local authority can fund some short-term, low-cost projects itself.
He said they are also finalising a tender for additional ferry services to and from the island which he aims to have in place for the start of next season.
“Needless to say, given Titanic Belfast’s experience of winning the same award, numbers and demand will grow significantly next year and in subsequent years,” Mr Daly said.
Fortress Spike Island will now go forward to represent Europe at the Grand World Final in Vietnam on December 10.
This story originally appeared in the Irish Examiner.