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Councillors slam plans to sell historic harbour

COUNCILLORS have hit out against proposed plans to sell Dun Laoghaire harbour.

The controversial plans to sell off Dun Laoghaire's famous waterfront were presented to the government in the report delivered by An Bord Snip Nua last summer.

The Department of Finance has yet to confirm whether or not the harbour, which is hoping to be picked as a stopover point for next year's Volvo Ocean Race, is on the market.

Ferry company Stena Line has been named as one of the private companies which could express an interest.

However, councillors at last night's sitting of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council said that they would fight any moves to sell the southside seafront.

Cllr Jane Dillon Byrne (Lab) proposed a motion for the council to write to the Department of Finance stating that the proposed sale was "totally unacceptable". The motion was passed unanimously.

"Dun Laoghaire Harbour is recognised by people in the community and by the country as a whole as a gem," Cllr Dillon Byrne told the chamber. "The thought of it being sold to a private company horrifies me.

"All of the work that the council has contributed to the harbour, such as the beautiful bandstand and the restoration of the original stones, cannot be guaranteed under private ownership."

Cllr John Bailey (FG), who is from Dun Laoghaire, said: "Every time we sell off one of our assets disaster follows. The biggest asset we have is our coastline and you cannot put a price on it."

Cllr Barry Ward (FG) said: "There is a real danger of us getting carried away here. Yes we are facing a bleak short-term economic future but Dun Laoghaire harbour is not just a key access point. It is a huge asset."

"The idea that a public amenity of huge historical importance be sold just to get some money into public coffers is unacceptable to me."

An Bord Snip Nua's report, headed by leading economist Colm McCarthy, said that the government should sell the country's 10 major port companies: Dublin, Cork, Dun Laoghaire, Waterford, Shannon/Foynes, Drogheda, Galway, Wicklow, New Ross and Dundalk.