Anger as pontoon funding vanishes

An east Cork harbour town’s hopes of acquiring a floating pontoon to boost tourism stand high and dry amid allegations of post-election ‘treachery’.

Anger as pontoon funding vanishes

East Cork Municipal District councillors were fuming when it emerged a claimed assurance of funding from Marine Minister Simon Coveney and east Cork Fine Gael TD David Stanton was no longer forthcoming.

The 25mx5m pontoon, costing an estimated €170,000, had been planned as a summer fixture at Nealon’s Quay, close to Youghal’s town centre. Six permanent visitor moorings, estimated at €35,000, were to accompany the installation.

Municipal district officer Helen Mulcahy told the March meeting, contrary to expectations, the department would now only commit to funding towards the six moorings.

However the county council was continuing with a public consultation process, running until April 19, in relation to the overall project.

She said the consultation process was progressed on March 4 on foot of the perceived assurance of funding at a meeting last October between the two politicians and county engineer David Keane, along with local sailing and tourism personnel.

Youghal sailing Club Commodore, Patrick Buttimer, however, had attended the meeting. He recalled Mr Coveney saying he “could sign off on up to €123,000 if the application was submitted prior to the general election” and never mentioned any other criteria.

Cllr Michael Hegarty (FG), who had attended the meeting with the Oireachtas members, said he also had been told funding would be provided.

He said the department now says it “doesn’t want to set a precedence” by providing funding, previous to the Part 8 planning process being completed.

Independent Cllr Mary Linehan-Foley branded the decision “a total disgrace” and said the public and tourist interests had been misled. “I was told to my face by a sitting TD that the money was in place for a pontoon” she stated.

Cllr Aaron O’Sullivan (FF) accused the politicians of “election posturing”,

Deputy Stanton denies funding was, or could have been, “guaranteed”. He said the minister simply advised October’s meeting to make applications in line with a subsequent nationwide call for marine development funding.

Cork County Council’s application had been part successful, he explained. He did not know why funding for the moorings was being provided previous to the Part 8 process but not for the pontoon.

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