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.