Blasket pier damage raised

PROPOSALS are being put together for the work needed to repair the damage inflicted on the Great Blasket Island pier by the horrendous storms of last February.

The Kerryman was informed of the developments by South Kerry Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin who issued a parliamentary question on the matter to Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin.

In his question Deputy Griffin queried the position regarding repair works to the landing area at An Bhlascaod Mór, asking the Minister if he would review all budgets to see if funding could be found to repair the pier, in view of the large number of visitors to the island annually.

In a follow-up question, he sought a time-frame for the completion of the necessary work.

Minister Howlin said he has been advised by the Commissioners of Public Works that preparation of engineering proposals, a work programme and cost estimation is in progress and it is expected this will be completed in the near future. However, the work is subject to the availability of funding.

Deputy Griffin also indicated the OPW is exploring the possibility of restoring Blasket writer Tomás Ó Criomhthain's house on the island, with a view to opening it to visitors in the next year.

Blasket Island native, Dr Mícheál Ó Céarna has previously called on the Government to urgently provide funding to repair what he described as the current "deplorable" condition of the Blasket pier.

Dr Mike wrote to three Kerry deputies, including Deputy Griffin, from his home in Springfield, Massachusetts to express his "deep concern" about the "sub-standard condition of the pier".

"Providing a safe means of public access to one of Ireland's most important cultural sites must surely be a priority," said Dr Ó Céarna. "The cost of the improvements would be modest in the context of the substantial cultural and economic benefits that are generated."