The future of the country’s only cable car is in jeopardy because Cork County Council cannot afford the substantial investment needed to bring it up to required standards.
The cost is reportedly in excess of €1m to repair the weather-beaten steel towers of the Dursey Island cable car and replace steel cables.
Opened in 1969 by then taoiseach Jack Lynch, the cable car traverses the 374m of the treacherous waters of the Dursey Sound that separates the island from the tip of the Beara peninsula.
Cork county manager Martin Riordan said the local authority did not have the cash to go it alone. He said if some mechanism was not found to meet the cost, the cable car might have to close.
However, in the short term, there are also other problems which will necessitate temporary closure.
Mr Riordan said the council’s insurance company was insisting it close the cable car to carry out immediate maintenance works and safety checks on the machinery.
According to Cllr Jerry Sullivan (FG), council engineers had prepared a plan to have repair works carried out, particularly on the base of the cable car on the island side.
The plan was approved by the Railway Commission — the statutory body which covers the operation of such machinery.
Mr Sullivan said that following that approval the insurance company said it would extend cover while works are undertaken.
He said no exact date had been made available for the start of the works but they were imminent.
“It’s hoped it will not be closed for more than two days at a time to facilitate this work which has to be done before the end of March,” Mr Sullivan said.
He said the cost of the works would be small in comparison to the work which would soon be required to repair the towers and replace the cable.
“It’s imperative that some other body steps forward to help the council foot the bill,” Mr Sullivan said.
Farmers who graze their livestock on Dursey have expressed anger that the proposed imminent closure is right in the middle of their busiest time of the year.
Mr Riordan admitted that in the longer term, the cable car would “require a substantial investment” which the council could not afford on its own.
He said the island was a tourism attraction and, as such, Fáilte Ireland should be the agency which comes to the rescue.
“If funding isn’t found, there will come a day when it won’t operate,” the county manager warned.
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