By Anne Lucey
The construction of a pier in a fishery at Cromane in Dingle Bay has long been described as one of the longest election pledges in Irish history, dating beyond the foundation of the State.
However, Kerry County Council now plans to convene a round-table meeting of all relevant State agencies with an interest in a pier development campaign which began before the end of the 19th century.
In 2003, South Kerry-based minister John O’Donoghue earmarked €7m of the estimated €8m cost, but the grant-aid was not drawn down due to planning difficulties and other issues.
A pier and breakwater proposal to be located at Crow’s Foot in the salmon, mussel and oyster harbour secured planning permission in 2005, after years of wrangling.
However, there it has stalled after Bord Pleanala annulled the council’s compulsory purchase order for three-quarters of an acre to form part of a new road.
A pier for Cromane has appeared on election literature at almost every general and local election for more than 125 years. In May 1895, locals petitioned the members of the Congested Districts Board, forerunners of the county council, to develop a pier at Cromane.
However, all 33 councillors at this month’s Kerry County Council meeting put forward a motion to “initiate a process” where all the necessary agencies would be brought together.
Councillors, in addition to highlighting development benefits, also continued to warn that there were also health and safety matters to consider.
Fianna Fáil’s Michael Cahill, who is spearheading the latest attempt, said the Office of Public Works, which governs coastal protection issues, along with the Department of Agriculture and the Marine, which governs the shellfish industry, the Department of Transport, and the county council “would all need to be involved for once and for all secure the pier”.
“This is going on forever and ever,” said Mr Cahill.
He said around 100 people, between small boats and trawlers, work the industry in the inner area of Dingle Bay, bringing their harvest back into Cromane.
At the moment, tractors are being used to access shellfish beds.
Cromane is also very scenic, he said, with a fine beach and restaurants and there was also a need for a pier to develop the leisure industry there.
Council management, however, noted that the pier was previously progressed by the Department of the Marine, with support from the council.
An official said the council was now again prioritising the project and would invite the relevant agencies.