Call for coastal defences to be built after storms

New coastal defences will have to be erected in Co Cork and existing ones strengthened if a repeat of the damage inflicted by the storms of early January are to be avoided.

Call for coastal defences to be built after storms

In the meantime, Cork County Council is seeking more than €3.5m in emergency funding from the Department of Environment to repair the latest storm damage, which was most severe on the West Cork peninsulas and the islands.

Between Dec 23 and Jan 6 the council dealt with 436 calls related to road damage, along with flooding issues, distribution of sandbags, erection of flood barriers and fallen trees. These call-outs alone cost the council an estimated €400,000.

Tom Stritch, the council’s director of roads, said the weather of Jan 2/3 and 5/6 caused most infrastructure damage.

“Despite extensive inspections and inquiries over the past week, the full extent of this damage may not yet be apparent. But the best current estimate for road-related damage is €1,220,545 and €1,737,000 for coastal infrastructure damage,” he said.

Mr Stritch said damage was also reported to 27 council houses, with an estimated repair cost of €57,000. He added that €22,000 damage was also caused to private property in Cape Clear.

The council’s staff have prioritised making all damaged roads passable, even if they only have temporary new surfaces.

Mr Stritch said the exception to this was on the R575 between Allihies and Ardgroom, where there had been significant damage at several points, and the L4703 at Gearhies Pier. It is hoped to have these roads reopened by Jan 18.

Cllr Pat Murphy (FF) said the only way to protect coastal routes on the peninsulas, which are a great tourism resource, was to put up new defences, while his party colleague, Cllr Donal O’Rourke, said West Cork councillors would be lobbying their TDs next Monday to ensure cash for the repairs was fast-tracked.

FG councillors Mary Hegarty and Dermot Sheehan said special funding should be given to inshore fishermen to compensate them for the loss of a significant amount of equipment during the storms.

Acting county manager Declan Daly said the council would do everything in its power to ensure it gets emergency funding from the Government.

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