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#DLHarbour - “There is no immediate health and safety issue with any pier in Dun Laoghaire.”

That was the message from Transport Minister Shane Ross in his reply to a Dáil question from local TD Richard Boyd Barrett earlier this week.

On the question of the risk assessment and due diligence reports conducted on Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, Minister Ross said the process “is a matter for” the chief executive of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, who concluded last month “that the most appropriate model for the [harbour] company is the transfer and dissolution model.” 

The minister confirmed earlier this month that “all assets and liability” of Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company would transfer to the local authority.

“I understand that the main issue now outstanding relates to remedial works in the harbour and how those works will be funded,” said Minister Ross in his response to Deputy Barrett, reiterating that National Ports Policy “clearly states that there is no Exchequer funding for any port company.

“My Department has been informed that there is no immediate health and safety issue with any pier in Dun Laoghaire,” he continued.

The statement comes after recent concerns over damage to the West Pier after Storm Emma, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Dublin Bay

#DLHarbour - It’s all change for Dun Laoghaire Harbour ahead of its pending transfer to local authority control — and part of that change might be seen this summer in the form of an inflatable aqua park.

Big Splash Water Parks Ltd has lodged a planning exemption application for an inflatable waterpark and barge to be installed in the Coal Harbour, after winning a tender from the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company to provide the recreational amenity.

The inflatable aqua park would comprise an inflatable obstacle course with a barge for changing facilities. No works or change of use would be involved in its installation and therefore it does not constitute a development, the applicant states.

The application is available to view HERE.

Published in Dublin Bay

The €33.5million figure for "Taking in Charge" of Dun Laoghaire Harbour in the transfer to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown is a broad brush number and needs to be examined writes Dun Laoghaire sailor Hal Sisk. 

During the recent DLR Council debate on the transfer, in response to queries, only four cost components were itemised by the consulting engineer for the accountancy firm conducting a financial "risk assessment":

€3m for the East Pier
€4m for the West Pier

€8m for repairs to piles at Berth 1
€800k for annual maintenance.

But most of the €33.5m was not itemised, and crucially, the report seemed to presume the putting right of all the structures including the now obsolete ferry berth. With the future of the Harbour as a Marine Park, with improved Public Access, and a Water Sports Centre, and thus without commercial port activity needing berths, most of the €33.5m may be unnecessary.

East Pier: €3m? Previously independently assessed at €4m, so plausible.

With €4m for West Pier, this leaves €26.5m for other repairs. But how much is actually necessary? €8m of this was described as "for repair to piles at Berth 1". But if there are no ferries, why spend money repairing a redundant structure? What other structures are irrelevant?

"An alternative new vision for the Harbour could make the cost of "Taking in Charge" hugely overstated" 

Similarly, if the basic structure of the Harbour is put right, especially the Piers and the Roundheads, which are "protected strictures", the engineer's estimate of €800k for maintenance may also be overstated.

Thus, now that Dun Laoghaire no longer has any credible commercial viability as a port, and after the winding up of the obsolete quango of Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, an alternative new vision for the Harbour could make the cost of "Taking in Charge" hugely overstated.

But the Taking in Charge numbers, together with recent damage to the East and West Piers by Storm Emma, also suggests an accumulated deficit by DLHC in maintaining this national asset. Since DLHC cannot address these issues, the responsibility reverts to its parent body, the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Published in Dublin Bay

#DLHarbour - “All assets and liabilities” of Dun Laoghaire  Harbour Company will transfer to the local authority upon its pending dissolution — with no additional State funding available, the Minister for Transport has confirmed.

Shane Ross was responding in writing to a parliamentary question from local independent county councillor Michael Merrigan, which asked the minister to specify if any funding would be provided “to create a reserve to assist Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council in outstanding liabilities as part of a final agreement of transfer”.

National Ports Policy recognised that the future of Dun Laoghaire port lies in marine leisure, marine tourism, cultural amenity and urban redevelopment,” Minister Ross wrote. “In addition, it clearly states that there is no Exchequer finding for any port company.”

Confirming that the existing port company’s assets and liabilities would transfer to DLRCoCo, the minister added that “the port will continue to generate income from marine-related and other activities such as rents, leases and car parks”, and that any remedial and engineering works “are normally prioritised” and funded via planned allocations.

Cllr Merrigan’s question raised concerns that Dun Laoghaire Harbour company’s financial liabilities “are greater than its liquid assets” and that the transfer comes with “risks and potential exposure” to the local authority.

The minister “needs to clarify funding” on the foot of a “€33.5 million burden on residents and businesses” in the county, the councillor added.

Last week, local Green Party councillor Ossian Smyth said the transfer of liabilities to the local authority is “not acceptable”.

Published in Dublin Bay

#DLHarbour - The proposal by Transport Minister Shane Ross to transfer Dun Laoghaire  Harbour’s liabilities to the local authority along with its assets is “not acceptable”, according to a local councillor.

Last Monday 9 April, Green Party Cllr Ossian Smyth shared the news that the minister had decided the “responsibility for the future of the port” lies with Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, in line with National Ports Policy.

Local campaigners broadly welcomed the news after a long period of uncertainly over the port’s future, with People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett hailing the decision as a victory for “people power”.

But now concerns have been raised with the particulars of Minister Ross’ letter to DLRCoCo chief executive Philomena Poole, in which he states that his “preferred model of transfer is that of dissolution of [Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company] and the transfer of all assets, liabilities and employees to the County Council.”

Cllr Smyth told Afloat.ie: “Dun Laoghaire’s taxpayers should not be left on the hook for debts accumulated by the harbour company while pursuing far-fetched projects like the super cruise ship berth, the floating hotel and floating homes, a hotel on the Carlisle Pier and so on.”

Published in Dublin Bay

#DLHarbour - Transport Minister Shane Ross must ensure there is “no delay” in the transfer of Dun Laoghaire  Harbour to the local authority, as Dublin Live reports.

Earlier this week it emerged that Minister Ross had made his determination that the “responsibility for the future of the port lies with DLR County Council”.

The move is being hailed as a victory for “people power” by People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett, a long-time local campaigner for bringing the harbour under public control.

Minister Ross is set to meet with the chief executive of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to discuss the dissolution of Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company and the transfer of its assets to the local authority.

“[Successive Transport Ministers’] failure to act has meant that significant liabilities have built up and a lot of public money has been wasted,” said Deputy Boyd Barrett. 

“The Government needs to now stump up the money needed to cover these liabilities, while ensuring no delay in the transfer of the harbour into full public control.”

Meanwhile, DLRCoCo has signed a €9 million contract for the long-awaited redevelopment of the Dun Laoghaire Baths adjacent to the harbour, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Dublin Bay

#DLHarbour - Has Dun Laoghaire Harbour finally been transferred to the local county council?

That appears to be the case, according to a tweet yesterday evening (Monday 9 April) from Green Party Councillor Ossian Smyth.

The tweet quotes Transport Minister Shane Ross, who has sole discretion on the matter, as determining that “responsibility for the future of the port lies with DLR County Council”.

Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council was understood to be meeting yesterday following its earlier vote to recommend the dissolution of Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company and transfer its assets to the local authority.

Afloat.ie will have more on this story as it develops.

See also: Could Council Vote Signal a New Master Plan for Dun Laoghaire Harbour?

Published in Dublin Bay

Following Afloat.ie photos showing the damage to the West Pier at Dun Laoghaire after Storm Emma, this weekend's low tide and calm seas revealed further evidence of the pressing need for repair works to the Pier's roundhead. 

Damage to the surface of Dun Laoghaire's East Pier is here

West pier storm damage 0067Weathering and erosion of the apron just before the West Pier roundhead

West pier storm damage 0074Above and below: Cracks and subsidence in the roundhead wall

West pier storm damage 0061

Published in Dublin Bay

#DLHarbour - Concerns have been raised over apparent damage to the East and West Piers in Dun Laoghaire Harbour that may be worse than previously estimated.

Visibly damaged stonework lies at the waterline of the West Pier roundhead some four weeks after Storm Emma resulted in “substantial damage” to the East Pier, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

One large part of the concrete and stone ‘apron’ just before the roundhead, estimated at 50 tons, appears to have been upended and moved as much as 40 metres.

There are growing fears that this surface damage may indicate further damage undermining the structure of the pier roundhead

Evidence of subsidence is also visible above the low water line on the outside pace of the roundhead, which may also be a result of last month’s storm.

There are growing fears that this surface damage may indicate further damage undermining the structure of the pier roundhead — a problem that could be exacerbated by thrusters of cruise liners should proposals for a new berth come to fruition, it has been suggested.

It is not known what repair works would be required, though the issue of potential effects on the roundheads was raised during the oral hearing on the cruise berth plans more than two years ago.

Afloat.ie understands that the last time a significant breach of the harbour’s piers occurred was during the ‘great storm’ of November 1915.

Cracks and subsidence in the roundhead wallCracks and subsidence in the roundhead wall

Weathering and erosion of the apron just before the West Pier roundheadWeathering and erosion of the apron just before the West Pier roundhead

Published in Dublin Bay

In a further twist in the long running proposed cruise Line berth at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, An Bord Pleanála has written to Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company this week requesting them to furnish further information in relation to the effects on the environment of the proposed development. The board is also seeking further technical and scientific information on the project.

In effect, it means the board is still not in a position to make its determination on the Cruise Ship Project for the Dublin Bay Harbour that this week also saw its transfer into Council ownership move a step closer.

As regular Afloat.ie readers will know, a year ago Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company (DLHC) issued a statement on its cruise berth facility following a  court case decision in which environmental lobby group Save our Seafront, chaired by local TD Richard Boyd Barrett, 'won its legal action against the decision to grant planning permission for the Dún Laoghaire Cruise Terminal'.

This week's An Bord Pleanála request has drawn a swift response from Independent Senator, Victor Boyhan, who has expressed his concerns about the capacity of An Bord Pleanála to 'deliver planning decisions in a timely manner'. 

“In particular, I am concerned by its handling of the Dún Laoghaire Harbour cruise ship terminal project. A controversial development, by Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company, which has proven to be a very divisive project.”

“An Bord Pleanála received more than 150 objections to the project and it was expected that it would announce its decision to grant, amend or refuse planning permission for the development in Dún Laoghaire Harbour by 8 January 2016.”

“It further extended the decision date to April and thereafter extended it again this time to 17 June 2016.”

“Local residents and harbour users who paid fees to engaged in the planning appeals process are frustrated by the inordinate delays, in what is supposed to be a ‘fast-track’ planning process.”

“In recent days, an Bord Pleanála ( Ref: 06D.PA0051 ( PA0042) 7th March 2018, has confirmed that it is still not in a position to make its determination on the Cruise Ship Project and has written to Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company requesting them to furnish further information in relation to the effects on the environment of the proposed development the board is also seeking further technical and scientific information on the project.”

“I am calling on An Bord Pleanála to explain why it has failed to reach a decision on the controversial proposal within the initial 18-week timeframe objective set by the board and to give reasons for the ongoing delays in this particular planning saga.”

“The government expanded the remit of an Bord Pleanála to fast-track certain planning projects, this planning application case highlights the need for a new and more professional approach to deal with planning appeals.” 

Boyhan says the case highlighted the need for a total review of the boards capacity to achieved its own planning timelines and targets.

Published in Dublin Bay
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