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  • Southside

Fury over harbour debt

Thursday, 11th October, 2018 8:00am
Fury over harbour debt

Cllr Cormac Devlin at Dún Laoghaire Harbour.

Fury over harbour debt

Cllr Cormac Devlin at Dún Laoghaire Harbour.

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

 

COUNCILLORS reacted with “fury” last week as the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company’s functions were formally transferred to the county council.

Speaking at a special meeting of Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council to debate the transfer of the Harbour Company to the local authority, Cllr Cormac Devlin (FF) said an estimated €33.5m of debt that would be taken on board by the council would have a significant impact on future budgets.

“This may lead to reduced services and increases in commercial rates and the Local Property Tax,” Cllr Devlin warned. "The chief executive of the council confirmed to members that this figure may actually be at the lower end of the scale of liabilities. This directly contradicts the claim by Minister Shane Ross to the Seanad that the debt is only €10m.

“Regardless of the figure, this transfer is a direct result of Fine Gael policy on ports,” Cllr Devlin added. “The Fine Gael-led Government is responsible for the transfer. They must now find a way to indemnify the council to ensure residents and business owners do not suffer for their policies.”

Cllr Donal Smith (FF) said Minister Ross had “hung a financial albatross around the necks of his con-stituents”.

“These liabilities were accumulated while the harbour operated as a regional port under the auspices of the Department of Transport,” Cllr Smith said. “Leo Varadkar as Minister for Transport introduced the ports policy.

“Paschal Donohoe introduced the Harbours Act 2015. Eoghan Murphy signed off this order. It is clear that this transfer is a Fine Gael policy.”

“It is Fine Gael who are saddling the residents of Dún Laoghaire Rathdown with this estimated €33.5m debt.”

In a joint statement, Labour councillors Deirdre Kingston and Lettie McCarthy called on Minister Ross to clear up the “ambiguity over the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company costs”.

“Minister Shane Ross needs to come out now and confirm what the situation is, as his ambiguity on this issue has been causing much concern both in my constituency and in the constituency of my colleague, Lettie McCarthy,” Cllr Kingston said.

“Minister Ross needs to ensure that the council will not be liable for the costs of historic liabilities.”

CllrMcCarthy added: “There is a real concern locally that the transfer of ownership of the Harbour Company will jeopardise local capital projects.

“I am especially concerned that the cost of taking ownership of the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company will stall phase two of the Samuel Beckett Civic Campus which will deliver a library and swimming pool and the Stillorgan Swimming Pool.

 “Minister Ross and the Government need to guarantee that when transferring the ownership that they will meet the historic costs, so that the people in communities across Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council areas do not lose out on much-needed capital services such as housing and community amenities.”

However, in a statement to Southside People, Minister Ross described the €33.5 million figure as “fictional”.

“It is ancient history,” he stated. “In July of this year the county council admitted that the figure is more in the region of €10m. This week the council informed me that they are applying for Urban Regeneration Development Funding for the harbour.

“I have also been assured that there will be no disruption to the running of the harbour operation.”

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