IFA representative Richard Connell and Dursey island farmer Martin Sheehan at Dursey Island Cable Car where Cork County Council has banned all animals including sheepdogs from using the cable car. Pic: Niall Duffy

A BAN on the carriage of all animals except guide dogs on the Dursey Island cable car to be introduced by Cork County Council will effectively put an end to farming on the island say local farmers.

The cable car, the only one in Ireland, has been used for years to take cattle and sheep across the treacherous waters of the 374m Dursey Sound that separates the island from the tip of the Beara Peninsula.

The carriage of animals in the cable car has become one of the iconic images of West Cork but now, due to health and safety regulations, no cows, calves or sheep will be allowed to use the cable car.

Scenes like this will be a thing of the past if Cork County Council get their way. Pic: Niall Duffy

Local farmer Martin Sheehan who was born on Dursey and keeps cattle on the island said the decision would “finish Dursey altogether”.

“Common sense has to prevail,” he told West Cork Times, “farmers will have to be allowed to use the cable car or farming on Dursey is finished”.

“A barge is just out of the question, it would not be practical even if it were provided for free because of problems with the weather and time to get from Castletownbere too”.

There are currently nine farmers with animals on the island with about 500 sheep and 80 cattle in total as well as five permanent residents.

“I grew up on Dursey and I want to keep farming on Dursey and I want my two sons to be able to farm there too,” said Mr Sheehan.

The farmers are meeting with IFA officials tonight.

The decision to ban all animals except guide dogs from using the cable car follows a decision last October to limit the use of the cable car to only carry animals of 400kg and under.

West Cork Times is still awaiting an official response from Cork County Council though they have said previously that an alternative ferry service is being put in place and their only concern is with the safety of all who use the cable car.