Senior Cork County Council officials are to try to access special post-Brexit EU fisheries grants to upgrade a number of piers and harbours, many of which are "not fit for purpose" and overcrowded.
The deterioration of several Co Cork ports has become a significant problem, with the most serious issue manifesting itself in Union Hall, which has forced a number of trawlers to sail into Ballycotton or Dunmore East to unload their catch.
Skibbereen-based Fianna Fáil councillor Joe Carroll proposed the local authority urgently look at initiating plans to extend the Union Hall pier as it's “no longer fit for purpose”, due to growth in the fishing industry.
“There is also space needed there for rowing, sailing and the RNLI,” he said.
Mr Carroll said Union Hall was “in crisis” as were many other fish landing spots along the county's extensive coastline.
He pointed out there were more than 50 trawlers trying to land their catch there, but the facilities are so poor and overcrowded some have to motor on to Ballycotton or Dunmore East to unload their catch.
“It's incumbent on us to do everything in our power to help these fishermen. Union Hall also has a rowing club, sailing club, anglers and the RNLI competing for the small space there,” Mr Carroll said.
Independent councillor Paul Hayes backed him, pointing out the pontoon in Courtmacsherry “was now being held together with ropes”.
He said the harbour there is silted up to the limit because no dredging had occurred in years.
“There are also massive issues in Garnish [Island pier] which needs a major clean-up,” he added.
Bantry-based independent councillor Danny Collins maintained the Government had until now “provided a pittance” for the upgrades of piers and harbours and needed to inject more cash into rehabilitating them.
Mayor of Co Cork, independent councillor Mary Linehan-Foley, who lives in Youghal, stressed that similar facilities in East Cork “are falling into the sea”.
Fine Gael councillor Michael Hegarty said plans drawn up for the enhancement of Ballycotton pier several years ago are still sitting there gathering dust.
Council chief executive Tim Lucey said he agreed with councillors and would look at the possibility of trying to directly access EU-grants designed to help the Irish fishing industry in the light of post-Brexit challenges.