Residents have called for a localised incident plan for Ringaskiddy following Saturday’s fire. Photo: Gerard McCarthy

Calls for harbour emergency plan

Residents of Ringaskiddy had to rely on each other and social media for information during last Saturday’s fire in Cork Harbour.

That’s according to Fianna Fáil councillor Seamus McGrath who is calling for an effective communication system and a localised incident plan to be implemented in the area to help put residents’ minds at ease.

Cllr McGrath said that an obvious “information deficit” is an ongoing issue between the Port of Cork and local residents, and that due to the nature of the area, a specific incident plan, separate to the existing county-wide plan, should be put in place.

“We all know the setting of Ringaskiddy; it’s a major industrial area with a lot of companies and factories in the area, including the Port of Cork. It is essentially a cul-de-sac surrounded by water with the N28 serving it and residents feel very vulnerable when issues like this occur,” said Cllr McGrath.

The fire, which occurred in a large grain storage building at the R&H Hall depot in Ringaskiddy, was the second such incident at the facility in the past four months. No injuries were reported.

Echoing Cllr McGrath’s points was Cllr Marcia D’Alton who said that Cork was “extremely lucky” that the incident did not have a more serious outcome.

Cllr D’Alton said: “The R&H Hall building is at the entrance to the Ringaskiddy cul-de-sac. Had that fire been any worse, that road would have been closed and people coming up from the navel base and from the village wouldn’t have been able to get out.”

Cllr D’Alton added that R&H Hall is in close proximity to pharmaceutical company Pfizer’s 0SP4 manufacturing plant which, if an explosion occurred there, would pose a very serious risk to the surrounding area.

The councillor went on to suggest that an evacuation plan be considered for the island of Cobh in the event of a large incident.

Responding to the comments, Cork County Chief Executive Tim Lucy said that the emergency services had done an incredible job in their handling of the incident and assured council members that there was a high level of communication throughout.

“I appreciate where members are coming from. Cork County Council as an organisation lead the multi-agency response to any major emergency. Under the National Major Emergency Planning framework, we have a suite of plans in place.

“I want to absolutely assure the public that when it comes to a major emergency of this nature, you can be absolutely sure that the emergency response system structures are there and the resources are there.”