Seanad Éireann - Volume 124 - 05 April, 1990
Dún Laoghaire Bill, 1989: Second Stage (Resumed) and Subsequent Stages.
Question again proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”
Mr. E. Ryan Mr. E. Ryan
Mr. E. Ryan: I believe this Bill is a very important step in the right direction for the future of Dún Laoghaire Harbour. It is a technical Bill which transfers the functions in relation to the harbour from the office of Public Works to the Department of the Marine. It is a short Bill.
Dún Laoghaire Harbour is a very important asset, not alone to the people of Dún Laoghaire but to the people of Dublin. It is a magnificant harbour of 250 sheltered acres of water and is an important source of employment, providing up to 1,000 jobs. Anyone who has taken a walk down either the east or west pier of Dún Laoghaire will have seen the great potential that the harbour holds and I am happy that we are seeing in this Bill an important step in its future development.
Because of the strong public interest in the harbour the former Minister for the Marine, Deputy Daly, established in April 1988 a planning review group chaired by Professor Dermot McAleese to examine overall harbour policy and to recommend the best method for progress on the development of the harbour. The review group rightly recommends the maintenance of the balance between recreational, commercial and public service activities in the harbour. The report points out that Dún Laoghaire is uniquely well places for marine related leisure activities. In addition to these benefits, the development of marine facilities would provide a start for marine related commercial activities and, therefore, jobs involved in building, repairing, sail making and other marine related activities. I would like to take this opportunity to urge the Department of the Marine to take into account the many views which have been expressed by all strands of public opinion in the Dún Laoghaire area. People have expressed concern about access and the use of the facilities in the 200 acres of water between the east and west piers and also the position of  the four yacht clubs within the harbour.
Dublin City Council and the planning committee of which I am a member recently did a rejuvenation plan for the Grand Canal Dock in the city and the planners did an enormous amount of research into that plan and visited various dockland areas and marinas all over England. They got many good ideas from their visit and they also brought up many good ideas of their own. One of the biggest problems they found, which was unacceptable as far as Dublin was concerned, was the lack of access to the water for the general public. This is very important. This is a mistake and had been made in England where people cannot get to the water to use the facilities. I would urge the Department to take this into consideration when the interim body come back with their recommendations. It is vital that the general public have access to all the facilities in the harbour.
The future for Dún Laoghaire Harbour will be through a joint partnership between the public and private sectors. The interim authority will play a valuable role in evaluating the proposals before them and they can pass on the recommendations to the Minister for action. Even though the Bill before us is limited in scope it does constitute an important part of the legislative process for the development of Dún Laoghaire harbour.
Minister of State at the Department of the Marine (Mr. Noonan, Limerick West) Minister of State at the Department of the Marine (Mr. Noonan, Limerick West)
Minister of State at the Department of the Marine (Mr. Noonan, Limerick West): I take this opportunity of thanking the Senators for their very valuable comments. During this debate I have listened with great interest to the contributions made and I assure Senators that their comments will be borne in mind when the long-term mechanism for the harbour is being considered. As Senator Eoin Ryan has just pointed out, this is solely technical legislation designed to transfer responsibility for Dún Laoghaire Harbour from the Commissioners of Public Works to my Department. I assure the House that this Bill will in no way compromise Senators in terms of scope for considering at a future date any legislation the Government may bring forward to set up new institutional arrangements for Dún Laoghaire.
 Senators will be aware that the Department of the Marine have been operating as agent for the Commissioners of Public Works in administering Dún Laoghaire Harbour since 1 January 1989. Since that date the Department of the Marine have made every effort to ensure that available resources are used at all times for the overall benefit of the harbour and, indeed, for its many uses. It is widely accepted that the general upkeep and running of Dún Laoughaire Harbour have improved since my Department took over responsibility for it. The harbour has been tidied up generally, a new marine activity centre has been opened, a weighbridge has been installed and a range of other measures and initiatives have been brought forward. However, it is undesirable that this arrangement should be allowed to continue for any longer than is absolutely necessary.
The purpose of the present Bill is to transfer formally to my Department those responsibilities in relation to Dún Laoghaire Harbour recently enjoyed by the Commissioners of Public Works. In the course of this debate a number of Senators expressed their concern about the interim board. I want to assure Senators that it is my intention that the board will assist me in all aspects of harbour management and development. In particular I will seek the advice of the board before preparing any future legislation concerning Dún Laoghaire.
It would not be appropriate for me to require the board to prepare a single report at the end of a specified period. Instead I will welcome reports from the board as appropriate on as many as possible of the issues which fall within their terms of reference. This is the usual procedure with boards of this type. I also look forward to working very closely with the board with the objective of developing that magnificent national asset, Dún Laoghaire Harbour, to its optimum potential not only for the benefit of the people of Dún Laoghaire but for the benefit of the whole country.
 A number of Senators were concerned about the length of time which elapsed since the interim board held their first meeting. Senators will appreciate that practical arrangements had to be made in connection with the establishment of the board, in particular in relation to the appointment of a secretary and finding a suitable location or headquarters for board meetings. I am happy to report that these arrangements have now been completed in a very satisfactory manner. The board are currently meeting at the offices of BIM in Dún Laoghaire and are served, indeed very well, by a staff member from my Department, and all the facilities necessary are provided. In fact, I can report to Senators that the board have now met on a number of occasions and regular future meetings are planned. I was privileged to address the first meeting of the board some weeks ago.
As regards the terms and conditions of employment of OPW staff who will be transferred to the Department of the Marine as a consequence of the Bill, I would like to reiterate that the rights of such staff will not be changed in any way in the transfer. This is important.
I conclude by again commending the Bill to the House.
Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.
Bill put through Committee, reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.
Sitting suspended at 1 p.m. and resumed at 1.30 p.m.
Acting Chairman (Mrs. Honan) Acting Chairman (Mrs. Honan)
Acting Chairman (Mrs. Honan): I understand Senator Costello is not here, therefore this House stands adjourned sine die. Thank you Minister Fahey.
The Seanad adjourned sine die.
Seanad Éireann 124 Dún Laoghaire Bill, 1989: Second Stage (Resumed) and Subsequent Stages.