Charity fears costs will sink donation of Haughey's yacht
A CHARITY has said it may not be able to accept the yacht owned by former Taoiseach Charles Haughey, which has been offered to it as a gift.
Co-ordinator of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) Simon Berrow said accepting the 52-ft 'Celtic Mist' would involve serious costs for the charity which it had to consider seriously before taking over ownership of the vessel.
"It's a lovely gesture by the Haughey family but there are implications in terms of funding it," Mr Berrow told the Irish Independent.
Mr Berrow said the acceptance of the Haughey family gift was dependent on the IWDG getting corporate sponsorship to help with costs, a passenger licence and a free berth in which to keep the yacht.
He added: "It's like buying a secondhand car and it's going to cost money.
"We have gone to the next stage, which is to commission surveys on the yacht to see if it is seaworthy and in a good state."
The IWDG estimates it could cost up to €30,000 to maintain the yacht and a further €4,000 in berthing fees each year.
This is before the Celtic Mist has been kitted out with the necessary equipment to enable the group to carry out its research and conservation work onboard. The yacht, which is currently in the Isle of Wight, has to be taken out of the water to complete an ultrasound survey on its hull, a rigging survey and a variety of other tests.
If the results are favourable the IWDG will be able to use the yacht to complete hydrophone surveys, which take place underwater.
Mr Berrow said yachts were very good for this purpose as they were quieter and would not frighten whales.
It would also be used for training purposes by members and to carry out research on Irish waters.
"Credit where it's due, Charles J Haughey was a member of the group and used to phone me whenever he had a sighting," Mr Berrow added.
"He was genuinely interested in the sea and the marine environment and in 1991 he declared Ireland a whale and dolphin sanctuary, which history has shown to be a positive thing, which has been repeated elsewhere."
The Haughey family has been trying to sell the motor-sailor ketch since last year and it has an asking price of €175,000.
During the Moriarty Tribunal it emerged that the last time Celtic Mist was refurbished, businessman Dermot Desmond helped out with the costs to the tune of €75,000.
The IWDG is hoping another sponsor will step in to help with the costs.