There have been renewed calls for action on Coney Island, as its jetties sit in dire need of repair.
Regular boaters and visitors to Coney Island are campaigning for repairs to be carried out on the island’s two jetties, as it is becoming increasingly difficult to moor boats there.
As far back as 2010, the island’s eastern jetty was destroyed during Northern Ireland’s particularly cold winter. Then, following the floods earlier this year, half of the remaining jetty on the island’s west side was damaged.
John Lambe, who travels to Coney Island quite regularly, has been campaigning for the past few years for the jetties to be restored.
“I’ve been boating for about ten years,” explained Mr Lambe. “There are two jetties on the island and, depending on the weather, you could have chosen which was safest to land at.
“Coney Island used to be a main attraction in Northern Ireland, but the eastern jetty was damaged in 2010 - only leaving room for about five or six boats to moor at the island. A lot of people are taking a chance and tying their boats up to the damaged jetty - but it’s extremely dangerous.”
The main obstacle standing in the way of the jetties’ repair is the debate over whose responsibility the task is. Although Coney Island is owned by the National Trust, the Council pay a warden who resides on the island and is responsible for its general upkeep and carrying out minor repairs. The repair of the jetties, however, is something a little more major.
“In 2010 the first jetty was condemned and fenced off for safety reasons - with no action in six years,” Mr Lambe explained. “When it comes to something like this, there’s always an argument over who’s responsible.”
John’s campaign has received support from Sinn Féin Upper Bann MLA Catherine Seeley who has raised the issue with the council.
“Following concerns raised by myself, the council and the National Trust have now met to discuss possible solutions and a site visit will take place on June 22,” she said.
“Whilst I am delighted that they are working together to progress the issue, I am disappointed that the site visit is so far away. The good weather will see an increase in the use of the jetty so I believe urgent action is required. I will keep the pressure on.”
A statement from the Council said, “The jetties on Coney Island are the property of the National Trust and council will bring this issue to their attention. Council and the National Trust are currently discussing a range of management issues regarding Coney Island with the intention of appraising members on this matter.”