I note the presence of the Minister of State at the Department of Finance, Deputy Fleming. I am sure he will pass my sentiments and contribution on to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy McConalogue, and that the Minister will be notified of what I have to say.
I raise the issue of Keelbeg pier in Union Hall. I will put the matter in context. We had very welcome news a number of weeks ago with regard to €33 million from the Brexit adjustment fund being provided to local authorities to carry out works on smaller piers and harbours in their charge. Many of us in this House have been saying for quite a while that it is incredibly important that we invest in those small piers and harbours and open up access to our coastline for activities such as inshore fishing, marine leisure, whale watching, kayaking, sailing and rowing. There is great potential in that regard so this type of funding is very welcome. Cork County Council did well in that 14 of 15 projects were awarded funding. This will allow for much-needed works at places like Courtmacsherry where there is to be dredging under a pontoon to allow it to be realigned. There are also to be works at Turk Head, Laheratanvally, Cunnamore, Glengarriff, Ardgroom and Kinsale, where an entire pontoon, known as the fisherman's pontoon, is being replaced. This is all very welcome.
Funnily enough, the one project of the 15 proposed that did not succeed was that at Keelbeg pier in Union Hall. Even more funnily, it is, in many ways, a blessing that funding was not granted for the works at this pier. I will explain why. It was Cork County Council's intention to cut off access and to use that funding to install a barrier on what we call the "old pier" in Keelbeg, the eastern pier. There is a commercial pier at Keelbeg, which is a fantastic new facility used for fishing activity by a significant fishing fleet, and there is also the old pier. Public access to the commercial pier is completely cut off. The only part of the harbour to which the public still have access is this old pier, the eastern pier. It was the intention of Cork County Council, if it had been successful in getting funding, to cut off that access. This pier is very important for some smaller inshore fishermen who use it. It is also important for some leisure activities. The rowing club uses the pier, as does the sailing club and sailing school. The school is located at a pier in Glandore but uses this pier at Keelbeg to launch its boats. This infrastructure is absolutely vital. Where Cork County Council is coming from in this regard is that the end of this pier, the outer half, is in disrepair. Some of the pier has been chipped off and it is in quite poor condition.
I ask the Minister of State and the Minister, Deputy McConalogue, to look at any new application Cork County Council makes for funding to repair the pier and to install infrastructure such as rails, ladders and cleats for tying off boats. A foreshore licence would not be required, which I understand is a difficulty with this scheme. I ask that the Department liaise with Cork County Council and encourage an application for funding to repair that pier rather than to install a barrier to cut off much-needed access for users of the pier.