Cork city's outdoor dining culture leads to closure of river access point

People who have used the platform for lunch breaks expressed their disappointment on social media. 
Cork city's outdoor dining culture leads to closure of river access point
People can dine Al Fresco on the quay side footpath on Union Quay, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

Alfresco dining on a Cork city quay has led to the partial closure of a river access point on safety grounds.

A small steel barrier has been installed to block easy access to steps at Union Quay which lead down to the river in the southern channel of the Lee, just yards from City Hall.

People who have used the platform just over the quay wall for lunch breaks expressed disappointment on social media about the decision.

The newly erected barrier to prevent people from getting access to the water on Union Quay, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
The newly erected barrier to prevent people from getting access to the water on Union Quay, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

It is a similar style to the barrier and guardrail which was erected along Bachelor’s Quay in early 2018.

The footpath along the riverside of Union Quay was widened in recent days as part of the council’s reimagining Cork strategy during Covid-19 to facilitate restaurants and bars which are now using the pavement for their tables and chairs.

In a statement, Cork City Council’s roads operations section said a “dynamic risk assessment” was completed following the change of function of the area from a footpath to temporary outdoor dining area.

“There is limited visibility of the access point from the seating or dining area,” the spokesperson said.

“As a result, it was deemed a risk to allow unrestricted access for toddlers and children.

“This decision was taken in light of previous public liability claims taken against Cork City Council involving children accessing the river.

“This temporary measure is site-specific and does not form part of any other current works or proposals for river point access.

“It is a temporary measure which reduces the immediate risk while maintaining (albeit reduced) access.

“It is intended to replace this barrier with a gate in the near future.” 

People can dine Al Fresco on the quay side footpath on Union Quay, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
People can dine Al Fresco on the quay side footpath on Union Quay, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

In early 2018, critics branded the guardrail installed along Bachelor’s Quay to protect pedestrians and cyclists using the riverside cycle lane and pathway “a monstrosity”.

City Hall said at the time that it was considered the most economical solution to address a temporary health and safety risk.

The railing subsequently painted in an effort to help it blend into its surrounds. 

The project cost around €26,000 for the supply and installation.

The newly erected barrier to prevent people from getting access to the water on Union Quay, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
The newly erected barrier to prevent people from getting access to the water on Union Quay, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

While officials insisted that it is a temporary measure, the Irish Examiner has established that the barrier will remain in place until work starts on the OPW’s flood defence works along the quay.

The final flood scheme designs will not be ready for submission to the Minister for consideration for approval until the first half of next year. It could be years before work starts on the flood defences along Bachelors Quay.

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