By Dan Walsh
A contentious failed motion that stated; “We remove the permission for jet ski’s from Courtown bye-laws in line with other beaches in the county.” was defeated by 5 votes to 4 at the June meeting of Gorey-Kilmuckridge Municipal District Council and the issue surfaced again today and once more emotions went skywards at the meeting held with Microsoft Teams in line with Covid-19 protocols and guidelines.
Cllr Diarmuid Devereux reminded the members that the issue of the jet ski’s in Courtown was discussed at the last meeting, but he was of the impression that things had not improved a whole lot and it continues to be a major problem! There are health and safety issues. “I believe we have to revisit it. We just cannot ignore the problem. Put that on the agenda for another day,” he added and was supported by Cllr Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin.
Cllr Joe Sullivan said he was down there (Courtown) at the weekend and he observed jet ski’s in action and there was no one from Wexford County Council to police the water and no Gardaí and then he infuriated some members of the chamber when he criticised the Kilmuckridge members for voting ‘en bloc’ to oppose jet ski’s in the Gorey district when the motion came before the June meeting.
Cathaoirleach Cllr Pip Breen was having none of it and he said there was more jet ski’s launched at Cahore than there was in Courtown! “To push the problem up to Cahore is not fair on Cahore, nor is it fair on Courtown. This is a problem that must be dealt with countrywide. They are a scourge countrywide, not just in Courtown.”
Cllr Mary Farrell objected to Cllr Sullivan’s comments. “Nobody is in favour of jet ski’s but we have to remember that not everyone who has a jet ski is a thug! (shouting broke out much of the conversation was lost). Cllr Farrell suggested that what needs to happen is to put something in place that solves the problem for everybody and she quoted a sign she saw from another County Council;
“Personal watercraft e.g. Jet ski’s and recreational craft, speedboats are prohibited from being launched into or operated in these waters or off this beach for a distance of 300 metres seaward from the mean low water mark as shown,” and Cllr Farrell said this means they can’t be launched or operated within 300 metres and anyone who is being genuine and cautious about what they do will go out to the 300 metres and operate in a safe and risk free manner.
Director of Services, Amanda Byrne suggested bringing Captain Phil Murphy, Wexford County Council Harbour Master to the September meeting and bring the Gardaí in as well. “When Capt. Murphy met with the Gardaí after the July meeting he was able to point out powers that they really didn’t realise they had. A person standing there with a jet ski – that is not a crime in any sense of the word, but where there is bad behaviour or abuse of the system that needs to be reported. It will be interesting to see the number of incident reports that have come to the attention of the Gardaí.
She added that Capt. Murphy will have the data from the users found lifting the barrier and a history to bring to the next meeting.
Cllr Willie Kavanagh repeated a comment he made at the previous meeting that he was in favour of accommodating everyone to enjoy the water – it is there for everyone to enjoy – in a safe manner.
Cllr Andrew Bolger agreed that there is a problem in Courtown. Cllr Donal Kenny also contributed.
Cllr Sullivan concluded that the roads are there for everybody and the water is there for everybody, and if you misbehave on the road you get put off the road and if you misbehave on the water – you can’t get put off the water and Cllr Sullivan alleged that jet ski’s are ‘banned from everywhere bar Courtown’. An Cathaoirleach and Cllr Sullivan ended up disagreeing as to the legality of jet ski’s – the issue rolls on and meanwhile the waters around Courtown are alive to the sound of jet ski’s watched by large numbers enjoying their day visit or staycation.