Buncrana inquest: Removal cost of algae on Buncrana Pier '˜seems low', inquest told

It would have cost 400 euro to clear algae from Buncrana Pier, an expert report said.

Wednesday, 22nd November 2017, 5:21 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 10:40 am
File photo dated 21/03/16 of a policeman at the scene at Buncrana Pier in Co Donegal after five people were killed when a car they were in slipped from a pier, as an inquest is to begin later

The treacherous bloom was as “slippery as ice” when the family car slid into the water last year, an eye witness said.

No barrier prevented people from accessing the slipway and no signs were displayed warning specifically of the danger.

A risk assessment had not been carried out for 15 years, lawyer Keith O’Grady said.

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He added: “In 2016 you have open access to a slipway covered in algae and in 2017 you have the slipway power-washed, cleaned, in excellent condition, and the gate closed and nobody can go down.”

John McLaughlin, a director at Donegal County Council, said the purpose of cleaning the slipway was to facilitate a ferry which used it during the summer but not in the winter.

The council commissioned consultants to draw up a report following last year’s tragedy.

Mr McLaughlin added: “The 400 euros talks about removing it (algae) once but it does not say the frequency of removal so that will be a matter for Donegal County Council and the total cost but certainly 400 euros seems low.”

He said during winter the slipway was rarely used.

He added that drivers using the flat section of the pier had a good view of the algae closer to the watermark.

Following an investigation the intention is to keep the gates open.

They were installed to control boarding of the ferry.

He said the council was doing everything in its power within its budget to ensure no repeat of the tragedy.