Long term flood prevention must be prioritised for Cork – Buttimer

Thursday, February 20th 2014

  • Long term flood prevention plan to protect Cork must be prioritised.
  • Commitment of funding for the project by Minister of State at the OPW, Brian Hayes TD.

In the last few weeks, Cork has again been devastated by flooding, with many businesses and homes in the heart of our city badly affected.  Regrettably, the reaction to the 2009 floods in Cork did not prioritise a long term plan to protect our city.  While criticism of the length of time it is taking to implement a flood defence scheme is legitimate, it is also important to understand that the flood situation in Cork is not straightforward.  Progressing a scheme for the city involves complex and detailed preparations to ensure that the best possible long term solution is found.

The engagement of Minister Hayes is finally bringing about progress.  He said that up to €100 million will be made available to carry out flood protection work for Cork.  I welcome that announcement.  He also stated that a possible starting date for the three-year project will be in 2015.  In the meantime, a forum between the OPW, city council and local businesses is being set up to explore interim measures that can help to alleviate the problem.  It is a pity that it will take three years to get this done but I welcome the Minister of State’s initiative and his commitment to the project.

Since the widespread floods of 2009, we have not yet seen the protection of Cork city being prioritised.  We accept that the city was built on a marsh but today we have a duty of care to protect homeowners, families and city centre businesses.  Small businesses are the lifeblood of Cork’s local economy, unfortunately these have been the hardest hit by the floods.  Since 2009 flooding in Cork has cost an estimated €100 million, but the city remains exposed.  Businesses remain at risk and homes remain vulnerable.

It is no wonder people become frustrated and disenchanted with politics and bureaucracy when, five years after the flood in 2009, we are only now getting to the end of the process.  The President of Cork Chamber of Commerce, Ms Gillian Keating, voiced the frustration of many businesses on local radio.  She spoke about the lack of action and the frustration of business people.  I do not blame business people for speaking out.  The protection of the country’s second city must be prioritised.  No economy can thrive when its business centre is subject to persistent and regular flooding.  The people of Cork need the remedial works to be prioritised and they demand it.  They must finally be given some hope that a long-term solution will be delivered, not promised.

While the development of the scheme must be prioritised and fast-tracked where possible, there must also be an immediate focus on interim measures.  The local forum involving the OPW must play a central role in delivering adequate interim protection.  This body must get to work as soon as possible and without delay to provide ongoing assistance to those most at risk in Cork city, whether in Blackpool, Douglas or Togher, and, in particular, in the city centre.  Let us expedite the situation so that we can end uncertainty and take away the fear people experience when they see a flood warning for Cork.

Posted under Cork, Cork City, Development, Douglas, Economic, Floods, National Work

Parliamentary Question: Government investment in a Convention Centre in Cork

Question to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Mr Brendan Howlin, TD)

To ask the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform if he will provide details of this Government’s commitment to developing a proposed Convention Centre in Cork; if there is a timeline envisaged for the development of this important infrastructural project; the anticipated tourism and economic benefits of this commitment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer.

For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 7th November, 2013.

REPLY

On Budget day this year, I announced additional investment of €200m from the proceeds of the National Lottery Licence transaction. This investment will be used to progress a number of additional projects and programmes in 2014 including the project to which the Deputy refers. The precise allocation of the proceeds to the Departments concerned is being determined at present and will be published in the Revised Estimates for Public Services 2014 which will be published in December. My Department will not have any involvement in the management and/or roll-out of this or any of the other projects to be funded from the Lottery Licence transaction. That will be a matter for the relevant Minister and his/her Department. Of course, Departments must ensure that, as with all capital projects, those to be funded through this additional investment are appraised in line with the processes set out in the Public Spending Code.

Posted under Development, Parliamentary Questions, Public Expenditure & Reform, Tourism

Parliamentary Question: Tourism development of Spike Island and Cork Harbour

Question to the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Dr Leo Varadkar, TD)

To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport his plans for the development of Spike Island and Cork Harbour as a tourist attraction; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Jerry Buttimer.

For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 7th November, 2013.

REPLY

While my Department provides capital funding for investment in tourism product development through Fáilte Ireland, it is not directly involved in the development and promotion of tourist attractions.  However,

I am informed that the Board of Fáilte Ireland recently approved a grant of €2,500,000 to Cork County Council for the development of the Fortress Spike Island experience.

The Fortress Spike Island project is to be developed around three principal themes – military heritage,  penal heritage, and stories of enforced transportation. These themes will allow visitors to get a real sense of the place of Spike Island in Irish history and indeed the wider history of the British Empire and the world.  These are also areas in which there is strong interest, both in Ireland and overseas, especially Great Britain.  It also resonates with the “decade of centenaries” which we have now entered on the island of Ireland.  I am informed that the Council presented a detailed market assessment which indicates that the proposed development on Spike Island will have a broad appeal across many international tourism market segments.

I also understand that Cork County Council placed its application for funding in the context of the Interpretive Framework for Cork City and Harbour, which was commissioned by Fáilte Ireland to guide the tourism development of the area.  This will place Spike Island as part of the wider effort to maximise the tourism potential of Cork and its harbour in coming years, which the tourism agencies will continue to support directly and indirectly.

I look forward to the completion of the Fortress Spike Island experience which will play a key part in the development of tourism in the Cork city and harbour area in the coming years.

Posted under Cork, Cork City, Development, Parliamentary Questions, Tourism