Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil leis an Aire Stáit as ucht teacht isteach agus éisteacht liom. Bhí air fanacht níos faide ná mar a bhí súil aige agus mar sin ní chuirfidh mise faid leis an gcaint.
I thank the Minister of State for coming into the House to listen to what I have to say.
I am sure the Minister is aware of the condition of Cleggan Pier. That pier serves two purposes, it is the ferry terminal for Inishbofin Island and one of the fishing ports in Connemara. Outside Rossaveal and Roundstone it is probably the most important fishing port in Connemara. This 19th century pier is deteriorating rapidly and a good deal of work needs to be done on it.
Cleggan should be formally designated as a fish landing port. A significant amount of summer fishing is done at Cleggan and from time to time large boats land catches there. Inshore fishing, shell fishing and other types of fishing are making a greater contribution to the economy of Connemara. If we are to develop those types of fishing, piers like Cleggan will be vital. Cleggan should be recognised as a ferry port, something that appears to pose major difficulties, and appropriate funding should be provided.
As part of the islands development programme Galway County Council is in the process of making a submission that work should be carried out on Inishbofin Pier. As the Minister will realise, if we want to provide a ferry service to an island, not only must we have suitable landing on the island but we need suitable piers for the mainland. The financial envelope of £1 million will be totally insufficient to carry out the amount of work needed on the landing stages or piers which need development to provide proper ferry facilities. Only when a series of accidents occurs at one of the ferry ports which were not designed to be ferry ports will there be an outcry as to why something was not done to designate, regulate and provide the necessary infrastructure for these ports.
There is need for an assessment. I hope this will be done in the near future and money will be granted by the Department to carry out a long-term development plan for Cleggan Pier. There are huge problems with this pier. It is falling apart. There are major cracks developing, even in the inner harbour and there is a need for new breakwaters. On a quiet day the water looks perfectly calm from the pier and one would think the sea could not break there. Unfortunately, because of the direction the pier faces, the sea hits the strand and comes back up the pier. For that reason there are gates in the pier to protect boats during the winter. These are not needed in Inishbofin and Inis Mór because of the way the harbours there are located.
There is a need for major refurbishment to the pier structure. The breakwaters on the sea side are badly in need of structural repair as are the pier walls on the inside and the gates. Ancillary facilities, such as proper car parking and public toilets, are needed. Somebody recently commented that there were public toilets there in the 19th century but none in the 20th century. Unless something is done soon, they will not be there either at the beginning of the 21st century.
There is a need for Galway County Council and the Department to make regulations to provide for a harbour master on the pier. We need to have control over where fishing boats, ferries, cars and other users of the pier are designated. A large number of pleasure craft use the pier and this will increase in the future. In the interests of safety we need comprehensive development. I hope the Minister will give me the good news that he has the matter in hand and that it is only a question of sending a cheque to Galway County Council, so that it can do the work in the near future.