Bord Fáilte urged to back Spike Island tourism plan

Cork’s county manager will today try to persuade Fáilte Ireland bosses to reconsider their decision to pull funding from a major tourism project in Cork harbour.

The tourism body has refused to provide €4m to kickstart a local authority plan aimed at turning Spike Island into a major tourist attraction.

It is anticipated about 20,000 people would visit the site annually.

County manager Martin Riordan will meet with three senior Bord Fáilte personnel in Dublin today in an effort to save the multi-phase project, which will cost an estimated €40m.

Assistant county manager Declan Daly informed councillors yesterday that the meeting was to take place and said Mr Riordan would report the outcome to them as soon as he could.

Cobh-based Cllr John Mulvihill said it was imperative that Bord Fáilte changed its decision, as tourism was the only way forward for his town which has been decimated by job losses from heavy industries in recent years.

The council wants to create an interpretive centre in the Fort Mitchell complex, focusing on the island’s history, including its early monastic settlement, its role as a centre for transporting convicts to Australia, and as a military garrison and prison.

Bord Fáilte informed Mr Riordan that it would not be making a contribution to the project for three reasons: * It said it did not believe the plan would attract enough foreign visitors to warrant it investing €4m; * It was concerned that accessing the island would be difficult;

* It wanted the council to focus on developing tourism in the lower harbour as a whole, rather than just focusing on Spike Island.

Mr Riordan said he was “absolutely convinced” of the merits of the Spike Island project.

He said he was hopeful he could address any of Fáilte Ireland’s concerns in order to ensure that the €40m project remained on track.

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