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Schull Ferry
  Ministers Visit to Cape Clear Island, Monday 16 March 2015

Cape Clear Island Representatives are very pleased with Minister foEquipment house Cape Clear Harbourr Marine, Simon Coveney’s visit to Oileán Chléire.

Cape Clear IslandersDock structure Cape Clear expressed themselves very pleased with the Ministers visit to the Island last Monday 16 February. Leaving Baltimore on a special early sailing at 10.30am he was joined by a large group including Noel Harrington, TD, and Cormac O Donoghue, Dept. Marine Engineer to inspect the almost largely completed harbour works currently underway. Addressing a gathering of Islander’s later in Club Cléire the Minister expressed his satisfaction at the progress made. He reminded those present that he has been coming to the Island since he was a toddler and has seen the harbour largely unchanged during that time. Seeing the large cracks which had appeared in the Bulls nose convinced him to allocate €4.5m, later €5m towards the emergency upgrading.

He alluded to the beauty of the Island and Roarinwater Bay and was confident that the quality of the finished product would reflect this and would be “something the Islanders would be proud of”. This was an “incredibly complex job, working throughout the winter on an exposed Island location” . Fortunately the weather was kind during the difficult operations, especially the insertion of the dock gate structure in last September which “slotted in like lego” . The next major challenge is due on 3-4 March next when the storm gates themselves are due to arrive, hopefully in time for St Ciarán’s Day on the 5th March.

As Minister for Agriculture and the Marine, remote coastal communities were very important to him and he alluded to some of his efforts on their behalf. While more fishing is taking place than 20 years there has been a marked decline in inshore activity since the fishing is now being done further out to sea.  He intends to see inshore fishermen properly represented and issues such as licensing addressed. Farming is also important and he referred to the uplift of 25% in payments for Island farmers and to the importance of the food and drink sector. He was very enthusiastic about plans for a distillery for the Island and explained that 40% of the employment generate by Scottish distilleries is through tourism rather than product sales. Aquaculture is also very important to the area and he hopes to see the aquaculture licensing process streamlined. While he recognized that this can be a controversial matter he hoped to see these kinds of issues resolved through compromise on all sides.Corelocks Cape Clear

Those present were impressed by his grasp of detail and his obvious deep understanding of and enthusiasm for these matters.  Thanking him,   Mairtín Ó Mealíid, Bainisteoir, Comharchumann Chléire Teo explained that he was now making good on a promise made to visit the Island at the time of the Comhdháil AGM in September. He also thanked all those who worked on the harbour project including the resident Dept Engineer, John Duggan, Paul Fitzgeald , Engineer with Keatings and all of the crew who had blended very well into the local community during their time on the Island. The harbour development is important but it needs to be followed up by progress in areas such a social housing, economic and cultural development.

Following a light lunch in the Club the Minister enjoyed a brief tour of the Island before returning to the ferry at 1.50pm. Later in the day the Minister visited the Illen Boat project in Oldcourt to drive the last nail. This is a heroic restoration project that has taken some years but which will be a source of local pride for many years to come which is also shared by the local Island communities.Caep Clear Harbour works

Attached are a series of photos reflecting the Ministers visit and showing various interesting aspects of the harbour works.Opening storm gate rams Cape Clear

They include from top, steelwork for house for equipment to operate storm gate, view of Duffys Pier from Bulls Nose, Coreloks  being placed in semi circular formation outside Bulls Nose,  Minister and party viewing works with Tadhgo Ó Drisceoil in foreground,  and finally a view of the space in which the rams to operate the dock gate will be placed.

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