Sinn Féin Councillor Conor D. McGuinness has challenge councillors from all parties and none to back his call to Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue to make the necessary funding available to Waterford City and County Council to begin the task of dredging Cé Heilbhic.
Speaking at the February meeting of Dungarvan-Lismore district council McGuinness said:
“There is a live application for funding currently before the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and once again it is entirely in the Minister’s gift to approve the application or not. I would particularly urge councillors from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to challenge their own party colleagues in Government on this issue.
There is a dire need for dredging at Cé Heilbhic. Fishermen are experiencing great difficulty in entering or leaving the harbour for some time, due to the build up of silt and sand. This situation is impacting the ability for local fishermen to effectively and safely carry out their work.
“Heilbhic is also strategically important due to the presences of the lifeboat station, which covers Dungarvan Bay and adjacent waters. There are concerns locally that the lifeboat may be unable to launch in an emergency situation – which puts lives at risk.
“The build up of sand and silt at Heilbhic has taken place over several years and is getting worse as time goes on. Not only is it hampering the fishing industry locally, but it has also added more risk and hardship to an already dangerous occupation.
“As it stands, the Department of the Marine can provide funding to dredge harbours such as Cé Heilbhic, however they refuse to fund the necessary preparatory work that is legally required before dredging can take place – this includes assessments and planning that can sometimes cost as much as the dredging itself.
“The ball is firmly in the Government’s court on this issue. My hope is that all representatives for the area join with me in pressuring Minister McConalogue to approve this application and fund the dredging works for Cé Heilbhic.”