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Displaying items by tag: Fianna

18th March 2011

Ports Must Not be Sold

The self-appointed group of 17 business, public and political figures who drew up their Blueprint for Ireland's Recovery were well-intentioned but appear to have lacked maritime awareness. To propose the sale of the country's ports is a nonsense which must be rejected. At a time when an Irish Government appears to have recovered its appreciation of the importance of the marine sphere it would be a travesty to turn control of the nation's primary channels of access and exit over to private interests. This would be akin to a householder, strapped for cash, selling the doorway to his home and then having to pay others for the right to enter and leave.

Over 90 per cent of the nation's exports and imports move by sea. Our ports are the essential avenue, the doors to Ireland. They are the property of the nation and must work for the people, whose future has been destroyed by the greed of private interests. To suggest that recovery can be achieved by sale of these vital assets is a nonsense and damaging to the interests of the nation.

What is needed is a clear, definitive national ports policy in which the government sets down what the ports are to do for the nation. Their role should be identified clearly, their boards and managements told what they are expected to achieve on behalf of the nation, with penalties for failure.

Fine Gael had committed in its election manifesto, to replacing the existing boards of all State Port companies and Harbour Commissioners within one year of entering government.

Fianna Fail and the Progressive Democrats in government had turned the port companies into semi-private entities, responsible for their own financial operations. While it was indicated that this would improve competitiveness and provide better and more cost-friendly services for users, who would be represented on the company boards, there are differing views about how effective this has been.

Competition is not necessarily always the harbinger of effective service or provision of choice. A small island nation with a limited number of primary ports could have a policy maximising effectiveness, delineating between primary and minor ports providing commercial services, supporting the fishing industry and leisure sectors. There must be containment of costs, efficiency of operation and the best services for exporters and importers. There should be investment where required and could even be provision for private investment. But the ownership should remain with the State on behalf of the people.

The ports are national resources, not to be sold off to private interests.

Those who drew up the recovery report which proposes the sale of the ports represented private interests and included are banking and speculative development interests. They echo, in regard to the ports, a similar proposal in the 'second coming' of Bord Snip Nua'. There are some aspects of their suggestions which merit further consideration, but it is regrettable that people at high levels of position in Ireland appear to not fully appreciate that the nation is a small island for whom the sea and its approaches are of vital importance.

Published in Island Nation

Beneteau 31.7 sailing in Ireland

In Ireland, the Beneteau First 31.7 Ireland One Design Class Association encourages and develop the use of the Beneteau First 31.7 yacht as a one-design keelboat, mainly for racing. 

Each year the association stages national championships with boats coming from different sailing across Ireland. The main centre is Dun Laoghaire Harbour where the bulk of the fleet (15 boats) are based at the National Yacht club but are moored at Dun Laoghaire Marina.

The Beneteau 31.7 boat is not new to Dublin Bay, as boats of this size and type have competed in DBSC in the Cruiser 2 class for some years.

However during the 2006 season, due to their increased numbers, DBSC granted the class its own racing start, thereby facilitating one-design racing for this cruiser/racer. 

Since then it has become one of the biggest one-design keelboat classes on the Bay.

One-design rules were drawn up to discourage modifications, maintain a level playing field and set a generally ‘Corinthian’ ethos.

To preserve the cruising dimension, the boat races with cushions aboard.

Numbers entered in DBSC have settled down to approx 15-18 boats, and regular Thursday and Saturday attendances over the season are usually of the order of 14 to 16 boats, reflecting good participation by members. Racing is close and competitive. 

In addition to scratch results, ECHO results are also posted. This combines the best of both worlds, providing one-design racing which the members like, while also providing an incentive and interest in turning out for those boats who may not always approach podium position on scratch.

At A Glance – Beneteau First 31.7 Specifications

L.O.A 9.61 m
Hull length 9.50 m
L.W.L. 8.80 m
Beam 3.23 m
Draught min (Deep draught keel) Cast iron 1.90 m
Ballast weight (Deep draught keel) 1 025 kg
Air draught (max) 13.90 m
Light displacement (EC) 3 750 kg
Fuel capacity 30 l
Freshwater capacity 160 l
Engine power 21 HP

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