Gusts of up to 160 km per hour cause further damage on west coast

Fishing industry may have lost €30 million due to weather, industry says

The flooded quayside at Kinvara, Co Galway. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

The flooded quayside at Kinvara, Co Galway. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy


Storm Darwin reached gusting speeds of 160 km/h across the Atlantic seaboard last night, cutting power, uprooting trees, and causing structural damage and spot flooding.

In Galway, a city library was forced to close when gusts smashed large panes of glass on its roof yesterday afternoon, with one man narrowly missing serious injury when the first pane fell close to the front door.

Up to 16 panes of glass were fitted as an architectural feature on the Westside Library.

However, the building was evacuated and the adjoining car park area close to Westside church was cordoned off as up to six panes were broken by the force of the storm at about 2.30pm.

People had been due to arrive for a free afternoon concert by Galway Contempo, but the quartet agreed to reschedule the event.

Librarian Cora Gunter said it was very fortunate that no one was hurt, and the fire brigade was ensuring the building was safe and secure.

Gardaí reported spot flooding on roads in the city, Salthill and Connemara, with the south of Galway county bearing the brunt of the conditions.

Clifden RNLI inshore lifeboat crew rescued four fish farmers after they got into difficulty at the mouth of Clifden Bay shortly before 2pm. The Irish Coast Guard Sligo-based Sikorsky helicopter was also called out.

Clifden RNLI said there there were westerly gusts at the time and the tide was ebbing.

The lifeboat crew transferred the three men from the boat to the lifeboat before taking the fourth fish farmer off a large cage, and returning all to shore.

The fishing industry has recorded a loss of at least €30 million and requires an emergency hardship fund, given that those working in the sector are self-employed, according to Caitlín Uí Aodha of the Irish South and East Fish Producers’ Organisation.

Up to 90 per cent of the fleet has been port-bound since November, due initially to lack of quota and latterly to the repeated storms, she said.

“Some of the larger boats may have had six days fishing in total since the beginning of January if they were lucky,” she said.

Fish farm
In west Cork, the owner of a fish farm near Bantry said the weather was too bad to check the extent of damage sustained when a cage pulled its moorings and upended into another cage during storm conditions on February 1st, and he had no estimate for the number of salmon which might have escaped.

Local environmentalists believe up to 60,000 to 80,000 fish may have escaped, with a negative impact on the wild salmon population.

In answer to a Daíl question yesterday, Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney said a fish escape is “likely to have occurred”, but cannot be confirmed definitively until weather eases and a visual inspection takes place.

The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and Marine is to hear a report from Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine officials today on the impact of the weather on the sector, while Mr Coveney said in the Daíl yesterday that he was introducing a temporary one-off assistance scheme to provide some 40 per cent of the replacement cost for gear lost by pot fishermen.