independent

Sunday 25 August 2019

U-turn on harbour swim ban welcomed

The sign at Fethard Dock Pier
The sign at Fethard Dock Pier

By David Looby

SWIMMING in harbours across the county will be permitted once a written application is made beforehand.

Senior Executive Engineer Gerry Forde said people were banned from swimming in Courtown, Cahore, Carne, Kilmore Quay, Fethard and Slade harbours last year arising from health and safety issues.

Mr Forde said: 'There have been some serious accidents where people have dived in not knowing the depth of the harbour.'

He said the ban has been reviewed and swimming at Courtown, Cahore and Fethard is now permitted providing a written application is made first which would include a health and safety statement. The application is available by contacting 053 9122300 or by emailing harbourmaster@wexfordcoco.ie

Cllr Ger Carthy asked why Carne remains prohibited. 'What is new that hasn't been there for 100 years?'

Cllr Willie Fitzharris expressed concern that Slade Harbour remains banned. 'We have a very active diving club and a state-of-the-art diving centre. It's vital for the training and for all the activities the water there is used for. It's a big tourism attraction with thousands of people visiting annually.'

Cllr Martin Murphy said regattas have been held in Slade Harbour, asking if future regattas will be affected by the ban.

Mr Forde said the council can extend the permission system to other harbours and pier. Harbourmaster Captain Phil Murphy said local boat owners expressed concern that swimming in harbours was a hazard. 'We need to make minors aware of the dangers.'

Cllr Larry O'Brien said: 'This is health and safety gone absolutely stupid just because Wexford County Council has taken over the running of harbours. In Slade Harbour for 100 years, to the best of my knowledge, no-one has been harmed or maimed. By doing this we are going to drive people out onto the rocks.'

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