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Transfer Haulbowline Park from Cobh to Carrigaline Municipal District, say Councillors

The debate around the management of Haulbowline Island continued to rumble on at this month’s meeting of the Carrigaline Municipal District (MD).

Writes Ciaran Dineen.

At the March meeting of the Carrigaline Local Electoral Area (LEA), there was major frustration over the absence of public bins in the recently opened amenity park in Haulbowline, with local councillors informed that it was out of the MD’s control as the island itself is under the remit of the Cobh MD.

This has led to a lot of frustration from the public, with a petition calling for bins to be installed in the park established by the Ringaskiddy Tidy Towns group. It has gone on to gather over 300 signatures to date, calling on the Cobh MD to resolve the issue.

With the topic attracting a lot of warranted attention, at April’s meeting of the Carrigaline MD, Councillor Liam O’Connor (FG) made a request in a motion that the Island now be transferred from the authority of Cobh to the Carrigaline district.

In his call, Cllr O’Connor stated that the next opportunity to make such a request would be through a statutory process the year prior to the next set of local elections which are due to take place in 2024. This was confirmed by senior executive officer, Nicola Radley, who went on to add that the MD would be able to make a submission to a public consultation process upon the appointment of the LEA’s boundary committee.

In support of the motion was Councillor Marcia D’Alton (Ind), who described the original decision to include Haulbowline as part of the Cobh LEA instead of Carrigaline as, “nonsensical”, adding that she would fully support a submission requesting a transfer.

She later mentioned that “from a practical point of view it makes perfect sense: road access to the island is from Ringaskiddy. Servicing of public facilities on the island will be by the Carrigaline Municipal District. The new park on the island will be a destination for this side of the harbour far more than for Cobh. Moreover historically it also makes sense. In the 1800s, Haulbowline, together with Ringaskiddy and Shanbally, were part of the parish of Monkstown, and when the school on Haulbowline Island closed in the 1990s, it amalgamated with the Ringaskiddy national school, which was thereafter called Ringaskiddy Lower Harbour National School.”

Equally in agreement was Councillor Seámus McGrath (FF), who noted that the amenity park was attracting far more people from the Carrigaline, Passage and general district area, rather than from Cobh.

Making an alternative case so as to avoid the lengthy wait to make a submission for a transfer change, Cllr McGrath indicated his preference to go down a route of entering into a Service Level Agreement, where while the site itself would remain under the Cobh boundary, the management of the Island could become part of the Carrigaline MD operations. He stressed that public facility issues need to be addressed quickly, citing the example of waste disposal as well as the public toilet in the park, which remains closed.

Speaking to the Carrigdhoun, Cllr McGrath said, “we can pursue the boundary review but we can’t wait for that as the overwhelming majority of the people who use the Park are from the Carrigaline MD and we should be managing it to address issues such as the bins and so on.”

Councillor O’Connor welcomed the suggestion from Cllr McGrath, adding that it would perhaps be a good idea to develop a memorandum of understanding between the two districts so as to define the roles of each municipality.

The executive officer agreed to bring up the comments of the MD with the divisional manager who will offer advice on the next course of action.

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