Harbour company in focus as Stena sails

by Gazette Reporter

CALLS have been made by local politicians for the control of Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company (DLHC) to be transferred to Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, following last week’s announcement that Stena Line is cancelling its Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead service from April 14.
Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett (PBP) was one of those calling for the transfer of the company to council control. He was critical of DLHC over Stena’s decision to withdraw from Dun Laoghaire.
He said the ferry company’s move was “a massive blow for Dun Laoghaire”, and therefore the company should be put under full public control.
He also called into question its management over the years, and questioned its master plans, which include the urban beach project, focusing on cruise liner business and the creation of a diaspora centre in the harbour.
Councillors agreed a motion on February 9 that the council meet Minister for Transport and the Marine Minister Paschal Donohoe to discuss the harbour’s future and its relationship to other ports in light of Stena withdrawing.
In the Dail last week, Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor (FG) also said the transfer of DLHC into the council’s control was now “imperative”.
At present, the council is in discussions with the company and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport about the handover.
DLHC is now seeking an alternative ferry provider for the route and will be focusing on growing the new cruise liner business in Dun Laoghaire.
Deputy Eamon Gilmore (Lab) said he will be contacting Minister Donohoe, asking him to engage directly with DLHC in its bid to find a new ferry provider.
Gerry Dunne, chief executive of DLHC, said: “While it is disappointing that a service will not be resuming for this forthcoming summer season, the importance of the passenger service business to Dun Laoghaire had declined in the past decade, and in particular over the past five years, where the service had been reduced to a seasonal operation.
“The important development projects in the master plan continue to be progressed.”
Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown councillors were united in their disappointment at the news. Cllr Cormac Devlin (FF) said: “The withdrawal of this service marks the end of an era and represents a significant blow to Dun Laoghaire town.”
However, Dun Laoghaire Business Improvement District (BID) company expects no negative impact on the local business community following the announcement.
The chairman of Dun Laoghaire BID, Don McManus, said the company would now be looking to the revenue cruise liner passengers will bring to the town.
This hope was echoed by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Chamber president, Dr Josephine Browne.

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