Danny Healy Rae raised the planned closure of the N71 Caha tunnel between Cork and Kerry for works scheduled to begin next month during Leaders Questions in the Dail last week, given the great concern this closure has for the people of Bonane, Kenmare, Glengariff and Bantry.
“Tanaiste,I wish to raise with you a very urgent serious problem that has erupted for the people of Bonane, Kenmare and on the West Cork side Glengariff and Bantry. A serious problem has arisen where the TII propose to close the N71 Caha Tunnel pass between Cork and Kerry for 10 weeks from the 4th of October. Everyone appreciates that the work that they are proposing to carry out to stabilise part of the roof, that work needs to be done but the timing is wrong and we all know that the country was closed down for a very long time and are disappointed that the work was not carried out then.
I attended a meeting organised by the Bonane Community Council at Stephen O Sullivan’s Molly Gallivan’s as did many other public representatives and it was also attended by a massive crowd of business people, farmers and concerned individuals from the Kenmare Bonane and Glengariff and Bantry areas of West Cork as well. It was pointed out clearly that business, tourism, agriculture and every other aspect of life has been closed down for almost a year and a half and they pointed out that they hope to be busy for all the month of October and the early part of November.
Molly Gallivan’s on the Kenmare Glengariff road already have 22 buses booked for October and it was also pointed out that 30 or more cruise liners came into Bantry harbour last October and it is expected that they will return next month. The spin off from these would certainly help Bonane Glengariff and Kenmare areas if they could go back and forth through the tunnel. This is the only option for buses as the only other way to connect Bantry and Kenmare would be east wards to Macroom in mid Cork which is over 35 miles one way.
The manager of Kenmare Mart told the meeting, as did many farmers from Bantry, Skibbereen and Goleen areas that the main trading time for selling sheep and weanlings is the month of October and early November. So my ask on behalf of the local community is that the time for beginning the works should be put out towards the end of November and the time frame for the works to be completed be reduced from 10 weeks as this is way too long. There are a few pinch points in the tunnel roof of the tunnel already disallowing the maximum height of coaches, that are allowed go through the tunnel, disallowing them to get through these types of vehicles have never been able to get through this tunnel as either the ceiling of the tunnel needs to be raised in a few places or just lower the flower the height needed is 3.8 metres however signage at present is only 3.5 metres.”