Cork County Council has appointed a special investigator to sniff out the source of a foul smell which has plagued a popular tourist spot for the past two months.
It emerged yesterday that the cause of the rotten egg-type smells in Clonakilty has still to be established.
Engineers told a meeting of the council’s Western Division, which was held in the town, that they “were having difficulty pinning down the exact cause”.
As a result they have sent in an employee from the council’s environment department to track it down. She is working with local businesses to pinpoint it.
Cllr Donal O’Rourke (FF) said he believed the aging sewage treatment plant was a “contributory factor” and described the smells as a “very serious issue”.
Cllr Noel O’Donovan (FG) agreed and said tourists had left local hotels because of it. “One elderly lady in Strand St was seen crying late one night because she couldn’t get the smell out of her house.”
However, Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF), chairman of the town’s tourist board, said councillors should not be “shouting” about the issue as it made Clonakilty “sound like a no go zone” for tourists.
“We should be speaking about it more discreetly. We’re open for [tourist] business,” he said.
That drew the ire of his FF colleague Cllr O’Rourke who said Cllr O’Sullivan’s comments “beat all”.
“That’s the whole point of these meetings so we can raise important issues. The people of Clonakilty would expect me to challenge council management on this issue,” said Cllr O’Rourke. He was fully backed in his stance by Cllr O’Donovan.
Meanwhile, they were told work on a €6.5m replacement sewage treatment plant had just started.
Assistant county manager James Fogarty said the contract obliged the contractors to complete the project by Dec 2014. Cllr O’Rourke said there “was a fair degree of scepticism in Clonakilty” about whether it would be completed on time.
Mr Fogarty said that from next January, Irish Water would have responsibility of ensuring that, but he was confident it would be finished before the end of next year.
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