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Remediation of Haulbowline must be completed – Sherlock

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Cobh Dáil Deputy Seán Sherlock sought assurances from the Minister for agriculture Michael Creed last night that the remediation of Haulbowline would be completed in a timely manner and not held up by bureaucracy at local or national level.

“We know the East Tip of the island has been significantly remediated in the last year or so and there is great praise for the work that has been done in respect of the football pitch and the East Tip itself being completed, with proper seeding and shrubbery being planted,” said Deputy Sherlock during a topical issue debate he raised on the matter.

“However, there is a question mark over the remainder of the site. My understanding is that three sites were to be remediated. The East Tip is arguably all but complete and there has been much progress on that. I am here to ask the Minister about the status of the remainder of the works and when they will be completed. There is massive expectation on the part of the people who reside in that area, particularly the people of Great Island and Cobh. We know Spike Island has become a global tourist attraction and there is a high expectation that Haulbowline would be completed and remediated in a timely fashion.”

“As far as the people of Great Island are concerned, this is a whole-of-Government issue which should be responded to by everybody across Government. I am hopeful there will not be a turf war between the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the Department of Defence in respect of the remainder of the works that need to be done. I would specifically like to know if there is a funding line available and earmarked for the remainder of the works to be carried out. I ask the Minister to explain the exact position in respect of the site because the expectations are high in the area that the remediation works will be completed.”

Responding to the debate, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed TD highlighted the work done to date on Haulbowline.

Said Minister Creed:

“Following the signing of contracts in July 2017, the remediation of the East Tip commenced and, in December 2018, I visited the site to see that the works had been substantially completed. Some minor finishing works on the site are to be completed early this year. The access road leading into the site is also being upgraded and this is scheduled for completion by the end of April 2019.”

“While the priority has been remediation of the East Tip, work on assessing a suitable solution for the former steelworks factory site has also been advanced in preparation for the next phase of the remediation project. Detailed site investigations have been undertaken and the preparation of an application for planning consent has also been advanced.”

“The Government has decided that the Minister for Defence will be the ultimate owner of Haulbowline Island, in keeping with the Naval Service being headquartered on the island. Any remediation solution for these areas will need to be cognisant of their likely long-term use. Information from site investigation studies and assessments to date has been made available to the Department of Defence to assist in this work.

Cork County Council has expressed a desire to open a public park at the East Tip site after works are complete. In the meantime, the council continues to act as agent for my Department in carrying out the operational tasks to deliver the remediation project. There has been close co-operation with the naval base to minimise any impacts on its operations arising from the works. The council has also worked to keep neighbours and stakeholders in the area briefed on the status of the works.”

Deputy Sherlock urged the Minister to nail down specifics of the project for the people of the Lower Harbour and the Great Island of Cobh

“Some €61 million was originally allocated for this during the lifetime of the last Government and my understanding is that only €23 million has been spent so far,” said Deputy Sherlock.

“We acknowledge the work done thus far but there is more to be done, for example, a significant amount of site remediation work. I have not had a clear answer from Government in respect of when that will happen. We know the recreational park will open some time in 2019 and that will add significantly to the public use value of the site, which is a positive public good. However, we need to hear from the Government specific answers to specific questions as to whether the remainder of the fund will be made available to do the work at the South Tip and at the former steel plant itself. To my mind, the Minister has not responded satisfactorily in that respect. I ask the Government to revisit the issue and give us a clear picture of what the likely outcome will be, given there was a ring-fenced allocation of approximately €60 million in funding and that has not been spent.”

Deputy Sherlock also sought clarification that the project had not been shelved due to the Capital Budget cuts announced this week. But the Minister stated that Haulbowline is “on a journey here and there is no intention of pausing the journey. Much preparatory work must go into preparing for the next phase of the works and it is continuing as we speak”

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Cobh Community Centre give generous donation to St. Vincent De Paul

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The cheque of €500 was presented to St. Vincent de Paul on Tuesday evening at the Community Centre. It was part of the proceeds from the Centre’s ‘Christmas Variety Concert’. John Coleman, Chairman of the Cobh Community Centre, thanked all the groups that performed at the concert last December, including nearby colleges St. Mary’s National School, Bunscoil Rinn an Chabhlaigh and Scoil Iosaef. Members of the Fundraising Committee – Manager, Gwen O’Halloran, Majella Smith, Martin O’Leary and Catherine Jefferson – also expressed their appreciation for the spirited and uplifting performances that were given last December by the Children’s Theatre, the Cope Foundation Day Unit, Pop & Rock and the Carrigtwohill Gospel Choir. Thanking the Cobh Community Centre, Liz O’Driscoll and Aine O’Regan from St. Vincent de Paul said, “Our charity receives much focus around Christmas time, which is a great thing, but our work is ongoing, year-round. Therefore, donations at this time of year are especially important to us.”

The Chairman used the presentation of the cheque to St. Vincent de Paul to announce ambitious plans to increase the usage of the Centre’s many and varied facilities. John noted, “Cobh Community Centre has great potential for hosting a variety of both community and commercial activities as well as training sessions. We offer convenience plus first-class facilities. That’s a package that’s hard to top! We are also constantly expanding and upgrading our classes and events. So, there is something here for everyone in the Cobh community…the Centre literally does what it says on the tin!”

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