Friday 20 February 2009

Gormley faces protest over plan to ‘vandalise’ weir

MINISTER for the Environment John Gormley is expected to face a large protest when he visits a town in North Cork later today.

Protesters say it is ironic that John Gormley will launch a document entitled The Heritage of North Cork, while his junior minister, Eamonn Ryan, is intent on semi-demolishing a piece of history in the locality.

The 12th-century weir in Fermoy is at the centre of a major row as plans to lower it and introduce new fish runs are being vehemently opposed by a number of people.

Members of Fermoy Rowing Club, in particular, are solidly opposed to the plan, saying it will lower the water so much it will sound the death knell of rowing in the town, which has been going on for the past 125 years.

They are planning a protest outside the local town council offices for 4.20pm today, to coincide with Mr Gormley’s launch of the heritage document.

A request by club members for a meeting has been turned down by Mr Gormley, who said it would be inappropriate.

"There has been a weir on the Blackwater in Fermoy since 1160. John Anderson built the modern town around the millrace and the bridge. It is critical that Mr Gormley understands that," said Fermoy Rowing Club secretary Donal O’Keeffe. "His colleague in Government, Minister Eamonn Ryan. cannot be allowed to destroy the weir and our rowing club in a costly, needless and reckless act of vandalism."

Mr O’Keeffe said there is a safer, cheaper and better alternative involving repairing the weir and, if necessary, adding new fish passes.

For details of the campaign to save the weir see

Mr Gormley will visit Cork, Ballincollig, Kinsale and Fermoy today with Green Party local election candidates.

Irish Examiner

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