Minister Ross can’t just land Harbour Company’s transfer on local authority – Devlin
28 September 2018
Fianna Fáil Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Councillor and Dún Laoghaire General Election candidate, Cllr Cormac Devlin has criticised the way in which Minister Shane Ross has decided to proceed with the dissolution and transfer of the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.
At a special meeting of the County Council in March, the Fianna Fáil Group called on Minister Shane Ross to postpone any transfer of the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company to the Council until appropriate arrangements were put in place to deal with the company’s substantial debt. The Minister ignored the request.
The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport has now confirmed that the transfer of the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council is to go ahead next Wednesday, October 3rd 2018.
Cllr Devlin commented, “The 200 year old harbour has a long and distinguished history and is one of the finest man-made harbours in the world. It is an integral part of Dún Laoghaire and gives the town its unique sense of place.
“The transfer of management and operation of the harbour presents serious challenges for the County Council, including the burden of an estimated €33.5m to take it on.
The Minister might think this is a short-term fix to keep the harbour operating but he has had months to ring-fence funding to resolve the issues if he properly considered the impact of his decision on the Council.
“As I pointed out to the Minister in March, alternative arrangements should have been made to support the harbour to manage debts before landing them on the council.
“The only suggestion to meet the cost of the harbour’s transfer, has been from local Fine Gael Councillors who have proposed to sell public land. Why should the Council have to lose out on serviced public land that should be being used for the development of desperately needed public housing?
“This cost will now need to become a feature of future Council budgets and will likely lead to an overall reduction in services, increases in commercial rates and/or Local Property Tax. This will have a significant adverse impact on business owners and residents in the county and in the Minister’s own constituency.
“I don’t for a second doubt the economic and tourism worth of the harbour in our town but the Minister could have at very least made an effort to resolve financial issues before announcing its transfer. Before signing this agreement, I call on the Minister to attend the Council’s special meeting o the matter this Wednesday, October 3rd to explain why he is choosing not to meet the cost of it’s transfer” concluded Cllr Devlin.
Cormac Devlin at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, March 2018