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Killybegs Business Leaders Outraged that Promised Pier Extension is Delayed

Dept of Agriculture, Food & Marine (DAFM) has just confirmed that €10m funding for a desperately needed extension to the new pier at Killybegs has been pulled at the eleventh hour.

Killybegs harbour - Photo by John Eagle

Killybegs Harbour Development Group which represents 1,150 employees in total, comprises boat owners, factories, marine service providers, engineering firms etc. It was formed in 2017 as a co-ordinated effort by local businesses to push for necessary infrastructural improvements in the busy fishing port. DAFM Officials promised Killybegs businesses as recently as this summer that a 120 meter extension to be built to the north wall of the new pier would be available in 2019. Plans were so advanced that in fact the first phase of dredging works is complete and a contract for the next phase has been put out to tender. The group is extremely concerned that the planned development has ground to a halt for an undetermined timeframe.

A recent report from BIM “The Business of Seafood 2017”confirms that Killybegs Harbour is Ireland’s premier fishing port both in terms of value and volume. In 2017 it recorded a very impressive 24% growth of fish landed vs 2016 which equates to an additional €40 million in revenue for the year. The number of vessels landing in Killybegs and the value of the fish landed continue to grow, which coupled with growth in cruise liners and other traffic visiting the port, is putting pressure on the harbour for additional pier facilities.

Lee Mooney, chairman of Killybegs Harbour Development Group explained “Local businesses have already made their plans based on having the promised 120m extension. Local fish processors had hoped to increase landings from Irish and foreign boats based on additional berths being made available. More vessels planned to land here and carry out their repairs in the port. Also, bookings have been taken to welcome two cruise ships on the same day on a number of occasions in 2019 which was all based on having the promised additional berthing facilities. We find it incredible that DAFM would pull or delay promised funding. The port badly needs this extension to help sustain existing employment and to grow our businesses. As an isolated border county, we are more exposed to threats of Brexit than perhaps anywhere else in Ireland. Once again, it would appear that Killybegs and County Donegal have been left in the cold”.

History has shown that any public funds invested in pier infrastructure in Killybegs has easily been repaid to the exchequer through additional harbour fees paid by vessels and taxation from increased employment in the area. Killybegs Harbour Development Group are calling on the Minister of Agriculture, Food & Marine and DAFM Officials to immediately clarify their position and timeframe for the promised pier extension.