Monday 23 April 2018

No support for port purchase proposal

Dundalk Port.
Dundalk Port.

Margaret Roddy

Margaret Roddy

A proposal by Cllr Oliver Morgan that Dundalk Town Council get in touch with Dublin Port Authority with a view to buying Dundalk Port failed to gain the support of any councillors when he tabled it at the May meeting of the local authority.

Cllr Morgan was taken to task by a number of fellow councillors for his claim that the port was 'seriously declining' commercially and by officials for stating that the town had a 'serious problem' of breaching EU regulations on coastal pollution with 'sewage effluent to our river estuary'.

He also admitted that the motion came from the Louth Environment Group, which he described as a community based body which had made a substantial contribution to the town, but chairperson Cllr Jennifer Green pointed out that the group was actually based in Jonesboro.

Opposing the motion, Cllr Mark Dearey said that there were people who had viable businesses at the port and they were alarmed by this motion. They had not been consulted about it and their needs would have to be taken into account.

'Dundalk Town Council doesn't know anything about running ports but Dublin Port Authority do. It's a very professional outfit, with a very clear understanding of Dundalk's role in the national strategy', he continued.

He also recalled that Dundalk Port Company had been disbanded by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar in some disgrace because of a severe hole in the pension provision for the port workers which had to be plugged by Dublin Port Authority to the tune of €1 million.

The council had been represented on that Board and this had happened on their watch.

Cllr Sean Bellew said that he too opposed the motion, recalling that it wasn't the first time that a motion had been brought to the council without any consultation with those involved and asked Cllr Morgan to tell him where the idea had come from.

'It's well known where the motion is coming from,' said Cllr Morgan, adding that the Louth Environment Group was very active in town and had made a substantial contribution to the town.

Cllr Kevin Meenan said it had taken him three years to be able to take up his position as the council's representative on the Board, adding that 'it had been an eye-opener to say the least, actually alarming.'

Cllrs Marianne Butler and Martin Bellew expressed dismay that the users of the port hadn't been approached before the motion was tabled.

Town Clerk Mr Frank Pentony said that the councillors do not have the power to acquire land and that the Council would not be approaching Dublin Port Authority.

Buying a port would be a huge liability at a time when their finances were stretched and they didn't have the expertise to run a port.

He also said that he was not aware of any breach of EU regulations.

The Argus