Islanders urge council to press ahead with pier despite surfers’ concerns

ARAN ISLANDERS have told Clare County Council the development of a new pier at Doolin was vital for the future of Inis Oirr in terms of potential job creation and the sustainability of the island population.

The island co-op Comhar Caomhán Teo urged the council to give the go-ahead to a €6 million plan for a new mainland pier.

Doolin acts as a gateway to the Aran Islands with Inis Oirr lying closest to the north Clare coastal village. The revised pier plan is facing opposition from surfer groups who fear the development will destroy ‘world-class waves’.

A previous plan was withdrawn by the council last December in response to surfers’ concerns.

In order for the €6m funding to be drawn down, the pier must be constructed this year and a decision is expected by the council next month.

However, in its submission, Comhar Caomhán Teo claims Doolin provides up to 70% of Inis Oirr’s tourism trade. The co-op pointed out the current pier was built for fishing currachs and was never adapted for its present massive use for passenger services.

The co-op’s submission, signed by Paddy Crowe and Michéal Ó Conghaile, state islanders cannot stress strongly enough how important a part the pier plays in the whole economy of Inis Oirr.

The pair explain that Comhar Caomhán Teo is responsible for cultural, social and economic developments on Inis Oirr and represents the island population in corresponding with various national and local authorities. “It is crucial for the future of the tourist industry in north Clare and Inis Oirr that a new pier should be developed at Doolin.”

They point out the pier provides a large number of jobs for islanders working on the ferries, for tourist services as well as the fishing community on the island.

Comhar Caomhán Teo said the pier was inaccessible due to tidal conditions for the main part of the day during Spring Tides, causing severe disruption for 14 days each month.

“The very exposed nature of the pier also renders it unusable in certain weather conditions. Ferry companies cannot be expected to upgrade their facilities in current circumstances,” they claim.

They point out that “in the last few years, huge improvements have been carried out on harbour facilities on the three Aran Islands and Ros a Mhil, leaving Doolin completely inadequate and almost obsolete for modern ferries.”

They state: “We are very concerned that the greater part of the passenger trade will switch from Doolin over the next few years because of the very difficult circumstances being encountered by tourists at Doolin pier.

“This will have a disastrous effect on the tourist industry in north Clare and in turn, the consequences will be devastating to our island economy and future.”

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