The Port of Cork has issued a “clarification” over its closures of the deepwater quay in Cobh after gardai were called to a recent protest at the facility.
The Irish Examiner reports that there was what gardai described as a “minor altercation” at the quay on the evening of Friday 3 May involving port security and ‘right of way’ protesters.
It’s claimed that one protester was injured while attempting to help a fellow demonstrator after an altercation.
The incident happened during the disembarking of the Celebrity Reflection cruise liner at the quay.
Demonstrators object to the port’s closure during cruise berthings of the quayside and its adjoining walkway, which they maintain has been a traditional right of way for more than 150 years.
But the Port of Cork Company has dismissed those assertions in a statement, saying that “despite erroneous claims to the contrary, Port of Cork Company is the freehold owner of Deepwater Quay” and that “no public right of way exists” over the quay.
“While the Port of Cork Company (and previously Cork Harbour Commissioners) have been willing to permit access by the public to Deepwater Quay, the port has always controlled such access where required in the interest son heath and safety, security and the smooth and safe management of shipping traffic.”
Port chief executive Brendan Keating acknowledged “challenges” facing the port as its cruise business has grown in recent years.
Among these are “high-risk” berthing operations involving multiple mooring lines.
“Like every port around the globe, the Port of Cork does not take risks, especially when it comes to the safety of employees, the public or visitors and for this very reason, the Port of Cork closes off the quay during arrival operations.
“The quay is normally closed for a period of approx 30 minutes and during this period the arriving shore excursion coaches are marshalled into into place while the quay is free of pedestrians, this reducing any risk of a traffic accident.”
The port company added that “it is by no means the intention of the port to obstruct members of the public from accessing the deepwater quay or to diminish the enjoyment gained by the public from observing such magnificent liners up close”.