ORGANISERS of the annual Fermoy Regatta may be forced to scrap this year's event amid increasing concerns that work on the town's flood plan, close to the local rowing club, may not be completed in time for the event.
The regatta, one of the highlights of the local sporting calendar, is one of the most prestigious events of its kind in the country, attracting thousands of visitors each year to the North Cork town.
Club officials have a deadline of tonight to inform Rowing Ireland if they will be holding the regatta as planned on June 30.
However, club vice-chairman Paul Kavanagh told The Corkman that they may have to forgo the date unless they can get a guarantee from the OPW that work in the vicinity of their clubhouse will be completed by then.
He said that "numerous" proposed meetings between club officials and representatives from the OPW and contractors undertaking the work have been cancelled in recent weeks.
"We have been left in limbo. No one is telling us anything. All different excuses have been given for delays on the works, but no one appears to have any definitive answers," said a furious Mr Kavanagh.
He said that club officials will be meeting with Rowing Ireland tonight in Cork City in order to confirm if the regatta will be going ahead on June 30.
"Unless we have a guarantee that works will be completed by then, we will have no choice but to refuse the date and cancel the regatta. That would be a devastating blow as this year would have been our 50th consecutive one," said Mr Kavanagh.
"Additionally, if we do not take up the date offered by Rowing Ireland, there is no guarantee we will get it again in future years," he added.
Mr Kavanagh said what was particularly disappointing was that the rowing club had fully co-operated with the OPW and contractors throughout under the assumption that the works would be completed on schedule.
"We even let them knock down our garden and shed. We were promised, in front of Junior OPW Minister Brian Hayes, that the works would be completed up to Fermoy Bridge by June. As recently as last Friday our captain went about seeking answers from the OPW, but to no avail," he said.
"At this stage I am seriously worried that the regatta will not be going ahead this year."
The Corkman was unable to contact an OPW official to comment on the issue.