Calls for ‘island designation’ campaign for Cobh after Ophelia

Calls have been made to reactivate a campaign to get island designation for Cobh, so it could be eligible for grants to improve its connectivity.

They came after 12,000 inhabitants of Cobh and the Great Island were left stranded for hours during Monday’s Storm Ophelia.

Calls have been made for emergency talks between Cork County Council and the owners of Fota Resort to reopen a road built within the resort’s golf course in 2001. It was opened to facilitate traffic flow during the 2001 Irish Open and was supposed to be used by emergency services if the Fota Rd was ever blocked by falling trees.

However, with the Fota Rd impassable yesterday, ambulances had to wait while council workers cleared the debris because the golf course road has not been maintained.

Tony McKeown, president of Cobh and Harbour Chamber, said the first priority should be to reopen the golf course road. “I know the whole route into Cobh needs to be revisited. A new road is needed for many reasons, including attracting tourism and industry, but the priority at this stage is the lives of people and we need that emergency road opened,” said Mr McKeown.

He said the only bridge leading into Great Island, at Belvelly, is 200 years old and he is worried that one day it will not be able to take traffic.

When John Mulvihill was a TD during the 1990s, he tried to get money to develop a new road into Great Island. A plan was drawn up for a multimillion-euro route into Cobh just prior to the recession, but was mothballed.

“If somebody got seriously sick last Monday the only way they could be evacuated was by helicopter and we don’t even have a designated landing area in Cobh,” said John Mansworth, who runs a local taxi company, adding that it was time political pressure was applied to get a road upgrade.

Cllr Cathal Rasmussen (Lab) described it “as just ridiculous” that the emergency road through Fota golf course had not been maintained. He said he would be seeking an urgent meeting with senior council officials and hoped they would meet with the owners of Fota Resort to formulate a plan for upkeep of the road.

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