Cruise berth plan to save Dun Laoghaire port

A multimillion bid to safeguard the future of one of the country’s busiest ports is due to be lodged with An Bord Pleanála.

The controversial planning application, which has sparked opposition from residents and local political representatives, is being submitted by Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company to An Bord Pleanála

The Harbour Company is seeking planning permission for an €18m cruise berth facility to cater for massive cruise ships, which would mean passengers will be able to walk onto the port resulting in a much needed financial boost to the local economy.

The port has been left idle of commercial ship terms since Stena Line Ferries pulled services earlier this year, citing the need to concentrate its business out of Dublin Port, located 12km away. The service was reduced to a seasonal operation five years ago.

The Harbour Company said it hopes a replacement passenger service would be in place for next year. To date nine expressions of interest in this service have been made by international shipping companies.

Richard Boyd Barrett TD, of the People Before Profit party, which organised a recent march in Dun Laoghaire against the plan, said: “The [recent cruise ship] cancellations confirm what a dangerous and foolhardy financial gamble the cruise berth plan is.

“Borrowing €18m to build this giant cruise berth could potentially bankrupt the harbour and be the first step to its privatisation.”

His concerns are backed by a number of local councillors who voiced their concerns at a recent monthly meeting of the council.

Three cruise visits to Dun Laoghaire had to be cancelled last month due to problems with high tides and passengers not wanting to be ferried from their ship onto shore, leading to the ships berthing at Dublin Port. The three cancelled visits involved two trips by the MSC Splendida and one by the Royal Princess.

A spokesperson for the Harbour Company said: “We have carried out extensive economic studies for our proposed plans and the planning application will be submitted in the coming days.

“Despite the current disadvantage in only being able to offer tendering services, Dun Laoghaire is seen by the Cruise Companies as a very attractive cruise call destination, and initial results from an economic study by the Smurfit Business School indicates a very strong economic benefit to the area arising from the influx of cruise visitors.

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Travel Agent: ITAA