The chairman of an umbrella body which represents 140 European ports dealing with cruise liners has said “Cork will shoot itself in the foot” if it goes ahead with plans to build a non-opening bridge across the city quays.
Captain Michael McCarthy, who is chairman of Cruise Europe, said the fixed bridge, which the National Transport Authority (NTA) wants to build as part of a Luas-style line connecting the city centre with Ballincollig and Mahon, will have a "devastating impact on maritime tourism."
He said there is a major shift towards cruise passengers seeking smaller, more intimate ships on which they can travel into the heart of cities where they can easily explore their culture and heritage while also spending money frequenting bars, shops and restaurants.
“No merchant vessel will be able to advance into the city centre past the bridge," Captain McCarthy said.
“You will sterilise Horgan Quay, Penrose Quay, North and South Custom House Quay including the pontoons for visiting yachts and power boats, Albert Quay, the South Jetties and the Swinging Basin," he added.
"Take a look at the pontoon by the coffee pods at Lapps Quay. Nothing but a few rowing boats will get up there if this happens."
Captain McCarthy has suggested the proposed Luas line follows the old Blackrock-Passage-Crosshaven railway line.
This used to run across the bridges by City Hall, the Clayton Hotel (Clontarf Bridge and Brian Boru Bridge) adjacent to the bus station and up around the Coliseum Corner to the railway station.
He pointed out that "our forefathers had the vision" more than 150 years ago to ensure all those bridges lifted up to allow ships to come up the river.
He said he cannot see why these bridges cannot be utilised in a similar way for the proposed Luas line, instead of building a new one downriver, which would be very costly.
“Throughout the world, port cities have embraced shipping and water transport and we are now going to block off a maritime city. I am appalled by this lack of vision,” he said.
Captain McCarthy said he is going to contact the Lord Mayor of Cork on the issue and also raise it with sailing clubs dotted around the harbour.