'Cruise ships won't ruin sailing' -Dun Laoghaire harbour chief
fears that a huge cruise ship quay would destroy leisure sailing in Dun Laoghaire have been dismissed as a "knee-jerk reaction" by the Harbour Company boss.
Sailing clubs and county councillors are keen on developing the port as a national hub of watersports excellence.
Supporters of the plan hope that by developing it as an international watersports centre, the controversial cruise berth proposal will be dropped.
However, Gerry Dunne, the chief executive of Dun Laoghaire Harbour Com- pany (DLHC), said no real plan had been put forward by local groups to showcase the via- bility of a watersports centre.
Plans for an €18m cruise berth capable of accommodating the world's biggest liners are currently being considered by An Bord Pleanala.
There has been opposition to the idea of giant cruise ships docking in Dun Laoghaire, but Mr Dunne said the plans remain "entirely intact" and said the company was looking forward to receiving planning approval.
"Contrary to knee-jerk reaction, leisure and youth sailing in the harbour and, importantly, sailing in the bay will not be significantly affected by our cruise initiative," he said.
"Leisure sailing has harmoniously co-existed with commercial shipping for years.
"At its peak, the HSS (Stena ferry to Holyhead) sailed in and out of the harbour 10 times a day, yet all the yacht club members were able to enjoy their sailing, the vast majority of which takes place in Dublin Bay, not in the harbour."
Mr Dunne said DLHC would be "more than pleased" to examine a fully developed proposal for a watersports centre, including a business case and a funding model.
Speaking after the county council meeting at which the national watersports Centre was proposed, councillor Jos-epha Madigan said it would be a "game changer" in keeping cruise ships out of Dun Laoghaire.
"The footfall in Dun Laoghaire will increase and it will be a very valuable facility for hosting events," she said.
"It can be delivered quickly and at a relatively low cost and be significantly less than the cost for the cruise ship berth.
"The presence of a cruise berth would undermine the sailing and watersports strengths to the detriment of the town."