With the recent damage to Dun Laoghaire Harbour by Storm Emma adding to the seriousness of the problem, last night’s decision regarding harbour management by the Council - and the comments issued this afternoon by the Save Our Seafront organisation – focus attention on a public matter of increasing urgency. The Save Our Seafront statement (given here in full detail) addresses many issues:
After a long council meeting last night, attended by many members and supporters of Save Our Seafront, the council voted 24 - 9 in favour of a motion proposed by Cllr Melisa Halpin and seconded by Cllr Dave O’Keeffe to support the Chief Executive's recommendation to bring Dun Laoghaire Harbour under democratic control of the council.
Save Our Seafront has long been campaigning for this, in order to ensure the development of the harbour in the interests of the people, the town, the county and indeed the whole country.
The vote took place in the context of a recent risk assessment received by the council which shows the figure of €31.5 million to bring the harbour up to “Taking in Charge” standard. This is a notional figure which may be needed to be spent over the coming years to maintain the harbour in first class condition. Cllr Halpin's motion went on to call for the Minister for Transport to secure the funds necessary for the ‘taking in charge’ expenditure that may be necessary to secure the structural future of the harbour.
Cllr Melisa Halpin said: “This is a historic opportunity for the DLR council and for the people of the county, and further afield. Dun Laoghaire Harbour is a Victorian harbour of enormous historic and cultural significance. It is the only intact such harbour in Britain or Ireland. It was the departure point for millions of emigrants and tourists for the best part of 200 years and has a special place in the heart of millions of people across both Islands.
“Today, the harbour is the setting for many international water sports competitions, the East Pier is walked by 1 million people every year. Sensitively developed as a public amenity the harbour provides a first rate opportunity to regenerate the centre of Dun Laoghaire and enhance the prospects of the town and the county as a whole.”
“Over the last number of years this opportunity has been squandered by the Harbour Company. They have wasted funds on expensive and frankly mad-cap projects such as the floating swimming pool, the new berth for mega cruise ships, a ten story apartment block on the historic Carlisle pier, a floating hotel, floating houses and high rise private apartments and hotels; In addition they have sold off a tract of land for private development. These plans never materialised because of opposition from the public, but millions of euros have been wasted in the process. It is high time this dysfunctional quango was wound up,”
Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett raised the issue with the Taoiseach in the Dail yesterday, calling on the government to act swiftly and ensure the quick transfer of ownership, the dissolution of harbour company and to find the necessary funds to ensure this transfer is not a burden on the council or the people of Dun Laoghaire.
He said : “Because of the lack of cooperation of the Harbour Company we still do not have a clear picture of the cost of bringing this under the Council but we are calling on the Minister in charge to make all necessary funds available so that there is no detrimental impact on the council services.”
“The government have sat on their hands over the last 7 years while reports of mismanagement of funds by the harbour company came to light. The current Minister has ignored regular requests by me to act on the Harbours Act 2015 and dissolve the Harbour Company”.
“The Minister and his colleagues in government should recognise the historical and cultural significance of this harbour and see any investment as an investment in our infrastructure and our cultural heritage. Now is the time to act swiftly and allow for the future development of our harbour in the interests of the people. I will be contacting Minister Ross for an urgent meeting to discuss the situation.