herald

Saturday 20 July 2019

Council's fears over harbour's financial upkeep

Dun Laoghaire Harbour. Photo: Irish Independent
Dun Laoghaire Harbour. Photo: Irish Independent

Concerns are being raised that the estimated €33.5m cost of work needed at Dun Laoghaire Harbour will be borne by the council.

Councillors have called on Transport Minister Shane Ross to pledge that his department will cover the costs if they cannot be met from the running of the harbour.

It was announced last week that the harbour will be transferred to the control of the council tomorrow.

Then it will assume full responsibility for the management and operation of the harbour, which before was under the harbour company and ultimately the minister's remit.

Mr Ross has been invited to a council meeting tomorrow in order to discuss the cost of work needed on the site.

Local Fine Gael councillor Barry Ward told the Herald there were serious concerns about the cost of bringing the harbour up to "taking-in-charge standard" - where no more than the day-to-day costs of running and maintaining the harbour needs to be spent.

"An independent assessor has put a €33.5m figure on it. Now, in fairness, he has said it's not exact and it might be 20pc more or 20pc less," he said.

"Either way, it's a big wedge of money that we don't have.

"We are willing to pay for it out of the running of the harbour, but what we are asking the minister is to indemnify the council if that doesn't cover it."

Mr Ross has not yet indicated whether he will attend the meeting, but Mr Ward said it was his constituents who would end up paying the price if the council had to shell out all the money.

Loss

"It is the citizens of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, their parks, their playgrounds, their public areas that will be affected. Dublin Rathdown is his constituency," he said.

The port suffered from the loss of the Stena Line route to Holyhead in 2015.

Fianna Fail councillor Cormac Devlin called for the handover to be delayed while the issue was resolved. He said the harbour was of national importance and its costs should not be borne by Dun Laoghaire alone.

"Alternative arrangements should have been made to support the harbour to manage its transfer before landing the prospect on the council which is already running a tight ship," he said.

The Department of Transport said the port has "substantial net assets" and a healthy bank cash balance, which will transfer to the council. The council plans to ensure the harbour is recognised as a "location of choice" for marine and leisure activities as well as for visitors.

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