Repair of sea wall in Belmullet still on hold

Despite expectations that a damaged sea wall on the road in to Belmullet would be re-constructed and repaired as far back as 2019 - councillors for the area have now been advised it will be at least 2023 before the job is done.

Reacting to the revelation by Padraic Walsh, Head of the Westport-Belmullet Municipal District who said at the May meeting of the authority this week that 'we hope the contractor will be on site sometime next month, but no, we do not expect to finish it this year,' - Belmullet councillor Gerry Coyle stated: "There was a time down our way they would say you could do anything once you had the three Ms in place - man, money and materials - but it doesn’t seem to be that way anymore, because all are in place for this work but still it won't be done. It just seems ludicrous to me."

Mr Walsh had advised councillors that the reason for the continuing delay of the project was due to 'ecological constraints', which are in place from October, to accommodate the 'overwintering of birds' in the special conservation area, following which, the works will commence 'as early as possible in 2023'.

Cllr Coyle lamented: "It is 2014 since this damage happened; a repair contract was put in place, money was got, and it's been announced seven or eight times that the job would be done. Now we have to tell the people again that their houses can be flooded and the wall will be blocked again this winter and it won’t be done because of ecological reasons. The only reason these areas have been so well-minded up to now is because these people protected them for generations; and now these special conservation and ecological designations are being used against the very people who protected the ecology there. I was shocked back in 2018/19 when you told me we could not get the job done because of wintering birds, and now you are telling us it will be 2023."

Cllr Sean Carey said he was hugely disappointed the project won’t be finished, and that 'people there are relying on it and living in fear of the sea coming across and flooding their properties'. He added: "It is the main topic of conversation, this wall. Back in 2014 is when concerns were first raised about it; some of it has washed away, the main road is beside it, where tourists get to see it; even the section designated for replacement, there is other areas showing deterioration in parts close by; there are houses and a school and accommodation close by; to say it is because of ecological restraints - people are living in fear and frustration, it's gone beyond a joke and is not good enough. Mayo County Council should do more to have this project ready to go. We want action on the ground and a contractor now."

Responding, Padraig Walsh stated: "We have to comply with the EU Habitats Directive and our plan is to get as much cast-work done on site by October - but I can’t promise the whole project can be done then."

 

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