AN abandoned boat which has become an instantly recognisable feature of Dundrum’s picturesque harbour should be removed as it is starting to break up, it has been suggested.
The vessel, which dates back to World War Two, is located at the inner bay in the village and is starting to fall apart as photographs taken recently by Dundrum photographer Wilfie Swain have revealed.
He said the vessel is “coming to the end of its days” and expressed concern about the implications it has for the health and safety of young people who on occasion explore the boat when the tide is out.
Mr Swain said one side of the hull has collapsed in the wake of recent storms, explaining this means it is even easier for children to access the vessel which he believes poses a danger to them.
“The upper deck is made of steel and is very heavy,” he explained. “It does not bear thinking what the consequences would be if it collapsed on top of someone. I was one of the few people who was against removing what has become a local landmark and one of the most photographed boats in Ireland but, given the state it is in now, the only option is removal.”
Mr Swain said he hopes whoever is responsible for the vessel will remove it “before the unthinkable happens and a child or person is badly injured or worse.”
His concern is shared by Mournes councillor Willie Clarke who said it was his understanding that the former Down Council was keen to agree a deal with a salvage expert who had expressed an interest in removing the boat.
“I was one of those keen to see the boat retained in the inner bay as it was something of a local landmark and very much associated with Dundrum. However, given the fact its structure is deteriorating, there is a need to move on the issue,” he said.
Councillor Clarke plans to contact council officials to ascertain the current position with regard to tracing ownership of the vessel and if there is still interest in salvaging it.
“I was keen to see the vessel remain in place as over the years it had become a local landmark and a familiar sight to many people. However, given the fact the boat is now starting to break up, health and safety concerns come into play and these need to be taken extremely seriously,” he continued.
“The boat is an attraction to young people and probably has been for many years, but the fact it is now deteriorating changes the complexion of things. Clearly the vessel does pose a safety risk which needs to be addressed.”
Councillor Clarke said it is now inevitable the boat will break up even more given that a large part of its hull has been exposed to the elements.
He added: “We need to ensure the vessel poses no further risk. Previous interest was expressed in salvaging this boat and I will be asking council officials if that interest is still in place or do we have to explore other options.
“The threat to people’s health and safety is the prime mover and it is important we move quickly.
While the boat is a local landmark and there are those who would like to see it retained, the circumstances have changed given the recent damage to the hull which will speed up its further deterioration.”