Calls for People's Park in Cork harbour to be opened

A year-long delay in opening a 'People's Park' in Cork harbour has been criticised with calls made to immediately allow public access to it as the Covid-19 lockdown eases.
Calls for People's Park in Cork harbour to be opened

Completed Haulbowline Public Park.
Completed Haulbowline Public Park.

A year-long delay in opening a 'People's Park' in Cork harbour has been criticised with calls made to immediately allow public access to it as the Covid-19 lockdown eases.

The large park was created during the multi-million euro clean-up of the former Irish Steel/Irish Ispat plant on Haulbowline Island. It was the location of Ireland’s only steelworks, which operated there between 1939 and 2001.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Defence have been accused of holding up the transfer of the park to public ownership.

Fianna Fail TD for Cork South Central, Michael McGrath, recently sought a Dáil reply from Agriculture minister, Michael Creed, on what was happening with the park, which was formally known as the island's 'East Tip.'

The county council had previously announced it expected to open the facility in May 2019.

Mr Creed said it was "important to note that the main occupancy of the island is the headquarters for the Irish Naval Service and the Government has accordingly decided that ownership of the island will transfer to the Minister for Defence".

He added that his Department acquired ownership of Haulbowline Island to enable remediation of the East Tip and "remains actively engaged with representatives of the Department of Defence and Cork County Council to put in place the appropriate mechanisms to transfer ownership of the island to the Department of Defence and to finalise a lease for the Council, to facilitate the operation of the recreational amenity".

Mr McGrath's brother, Seamus, who is a county councillor, said this “bureaucratic delay” needs to be immediately addressed as the park is a wonderful amenity and is needed now more than ever as the Covid-19 lockdown eases.

If it was to open today, the 5km travel limit would only allow a few hundred people living in the villages of Ringaskiddy and Shanbally to access it.

However, Mr McGrath pointed out that from June 8 the travel limit will, if there is no major increase in Covid-19 cases, be extended to 20km.

He said if this happens then it would be open to everybody living on the southside of Cork city.

The county council has created 4kms of harbourside walkways on the island and a 1km circuit for joggers. It has also put in seating which will provide visitors with panoramic views of the harbour. A football pitch and large car park have also been created on the site.

The senior council engineer in charge of remediating the island, Cormac Ó Súilleabháin, previously said: “The landscape will be undulating. The whole park will be an outdoor playground for people of all ages.

“People are eager to get out and about as the lockdown eases. This is a fantastic amenity for them and the public shouldn't be inconvenienced by having it closed because both departments haven't sorted this out,” Cllr McGrath said.

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