Local businesses in Cork city have told a group opposed to a proposed flood relief scheme there that they are concerned about the future of businesses in the city centre if the construction goes ahead.
The Office of Public Works (OPW) wants to build controversial flood walls along the River Lee, something the Save Cork City group has vowed to fight.
Seán Antóin Ó Muirí of Save Cork City said: "We’ve spent the last few weeks meeting people for our ‘Humans of Cork’ campaign on Facebook and Twitter. Almost universally, the more people hear about the wall proposal, the more they turn against it.
"We’ve had businesses say to us that they are worried about the effect of massive construction on the city centre. Eoin O’Mahony of ‘O’Mahony’s of the Market’ did a video for us. He particularly mentioned the bad timing of the proposal, just as there is life coming back into the city centre. Between Brexit and the walls, people are understandably afraid."
Another Save Cork City spokesperson, John Hegarty, said it is about more than just the construction of the wall.
Mr Hegarty said: "The business people are Corkonians first and foremost and they don’t want their beautiful city ruined when there is a far better alternative. Save Cork City wants the city centre restored, not destroyed.
"We want easily achievable upriver solutions, and we want a tidal barrier. We have suggested a barrier at Little Island which is less than the OPW plan will cost once the inevitable cost over-runs and compensation cases are factored in."
Save Cork City has lodged a comprehensive submission opposing the plan.
Mr Ó Muirí said: "The OPW are planning to build extensive walls, blocking off the river at street level. They want to pump concrete grout under pressure behind the existing quay walls below street level.
"And they are hoping that putting giant pumping chambers all over the city (which is the equivalent of burying a fleet of double-decker buses) will keep the marsh on which the city is built under control. Our engineering experts have told us the plan will not work.
"Our climate change expert, Professor Robert Devoy, who was on a team that won a Nobel Prize, says it will not deal with the certainty of climate change. And our business supporters have told us it will sink them."
Mr Ó Muirí revealed that one local business, Cafe Paradiso, thought it was so important that almost the entire staff and the co-owners Denis Cotter and Geraldine O’Toole posed for a ‘Humans of Cork’ photograph.
He said: "Cafe Paradiso has been badly flooded in the past. Shops and businesses in the city are supporting us and our proposals and the numbers are growing day by day. Rebecca Harte from the Farmgate and publican Benny McCabe have been supporting us all along.’
John Hegarty said: "Everybody wants flood relief, but they don’t want the OPW’s crude, outdated and ineffective plan. They want a plan that works that won’t kill the city they love."