Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has called for an independent review of proposed flood relief walls in Cork City claiming they will damage the character of the entire city.
In what is the largest flood defence scheme in the history of the State, the OPW has proposed a range of measures including building raised walls along the city centre’s northern river channel.
The €140m plan will also involve changes to the management of the Inniscarra and Carrigadrohid dams, and the construction of direct flood defences, including embankments on the Lee Fields and in Fitzgerald’s Park. However, Mr Martin believes this plan will destroy the architecture of the city and would impact negatively on tourism.
“I am particularly concerned about the flooding plans that the OPW have for Cork City,” he said.
“I think the current OPW policy, it seems to me, would involve over 10 years of disruption to the city centre. I think it will impair the aesthetic quality of the city, which essentially is what gives the city its character, the two channels of the Lee, the historic quay walls, the historic quay artifacts, the architecture around that, I think we could seriously damage all of that.
“I will be calling for an independent review to be commissioned by Minister Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran on the causeway as a viable alternative to increasing the height of the walls.”
Campaigners have put forward an alternative three-point plan that would not require the construction of the defence walls.
Instead, the Save Cork City group has suggested the a tidal barrier, extensive quayside repair, and a raft of upstream measures to slow the flow of the River Lee.
Mr Moran travelled to Cork last week to meet with the Save Cork City group as well as local business representatives, Cork Chamber of Commerce and Cork City Council.
“Cork has waited long enough. We have to put our best foot forward. We have to get it right, but we also have to move it forward,” he said.
He added that all suggestions will be “looked at further”, but hit out at “misinformation and scaremongering” that had been part of the discussion on the defence walls up to now.
“There is some wrong information out there in the public and we have to correct that. People are afraid that the city will be cut off, but I am only 5ft3in and many of the walls don’t even come up to my waist.
“I understand that heritage has to be taken into account — and it will be. This is not going to be as disruptive as some people have feared,” he said.
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