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Buoyant results in ERSI survey

7th March 1997
THERE are 49,000 participant's in coastal sailing according to an ERSI survey. The figure is among one of a number of positive disclosures by the Minister for the Marine and Defence, Sean Barrett, this week. In addition to the appointment of consultants to design a 700-berth marina for Dun Laoghaire, the town's east pier may well become the country's first `sailing stadium' if the Minister's plan to convert the 19th century pier battery into a £550,000 special events facility is successful. The ERSI figure has been released in advance of the publication of a national marine study by the Marine Institute due out later this year. Seen by The Irish Times this week, a breakdown of the total indicates that 28,400 males and 21,500 females are involved in coastal sailing in Ireland. The total figure nearly doubles to 81,500 when rowing and motorboating statistics are included.
Describing the figures as `delightful' the Irish Sailing Association's Neil Murphy said, "the reality is dawning on what sailing means to a lot of Irish people," whilst other sailing administrators were `astonished' that participation in the sport was so large. Given the ISA lays claim to what, until now, was thought of as a very large 18,000 membership, begs fundamental questions on how the sport can now be developed. The figures, which only include the adult population, represent the culmination of a seven-month ERSI survey which will be used in the baseline study for the Department of the Marine in an effort to produce the first profile of what Barrett calls Ireland's `most important resource'. In Howth, last month, the Minister of State at the Department of" the Marine, Eamon Gilmore, released figures from the report that showed 1.5 million Irish people and 260,000 overseas visitors participated in some form of marine leisure activity in 1995. The domestic sector alone generated over £300 million in revenue and supported an estimated 10,500 jobs, while visitors' expenditure created an additional 3,500 jobs. Gilmore also released figures on the first comprehensive report on coastal berthage which shows 1,174 berths in 15 marinas around the coast of the Republic of Ireland. Following the completion of a feasibility study to renovate the East Pier battery and the reduction of its use by Irish Lights, Barrett lodged an application with the Deapartment of Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht for grant aid under the EU Tourism-cultural Development Incentive Scheme. This would go towards installing special viewing platforms, and tea rooms at the pier head which would give excellent viewing of Dublin Bay Sailing club (DBSC) starting lines and other harbour regattas. Commenting on the battery announcement, DBSC commodore Margaret Woods said that, while the battery was too close for any starting procedures, it could be an excellent finishing line facility especially for the Department of the Marine's own harbour regatta which finishes inside the harbour.
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