The chief executive of Dun Laoghaire’s local authority has said she was “stunned” the transfer of the town’s harbour to its control did not come with any State funding to offset its debts.
The Irish Times reports on a special meeting of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council yesterday evening (Monday 30 September) on the eve of the first anniversary of its taking over responsibility for the harbour.
That move also saw the authority assume €38 million in “infrastructural debt costs”, with Transport Minister Shane Ross confirming months beforehand that the transfer would include “all assets and liabilities”, with no additional State funding made available.
“National Ports Policy recognised that the future of Dun Laoghaire port lies in marine leisure, marine tourism, cultural amenity and urban redevelopment,” the minister stated at the time. “In addition, it clearly states that there is no Exchequer finding for any port company.”
Local councillors expressed their frustration upon the formal changeover a year ago, and the same issues were reiterated yesterday — with the council’s director of services Therese Langan telling the meeting that €10 million in “immediate works” was required.
This includes remedial works as a result of “substantial damage” to the East Pier during Storm Emma early last year.
“No funding was provided in spite of the case being forcefully put as to the financial burden being placed on a single local authority,” Langan told the council.
Chief executive Philomena Poole said she would have welcomed a commitment for State funding “but I didn’t get one”.
With the additional debts and council funding shortfall, a number of plans for the harbour including a €5 million urban beach and a €30 million cruise berth have been pulled. Proposals for an 'innovation campus' at the former ferry terminal also fell apart.
The council more recently opened a tender for expert strategic advice on an economic plan for the harbour and adjacent town centre. The former has struggled since losing the Stena Line ferry service to Holyhead almost five years ago.
The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.