Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company is a commercial semi-state company charged with maintaining and developing the harbour as a marine tourism gateway to Ireland, and as a facility for harbour users and those who live in Dún Laoghaire and the surrounding areas.
The shareholder in the company is the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohue.
The directors of the company are Eithne Scott-Lennon (Chair); Gerry Dunne (CEO); Dr. Peter Brennan; Pam Kearney; Justin McKenna; Mark Finan; Don McManus and James Jordan. More information about the directors can be found here.
The directors are appointed by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport.
The harbour was built between 1817 and 1842 and is widely recognised as one of the finest man-made harbours in the world. It was formed by the creation of two breakwaters, commonly known as the East and West Piers, which measure approximately one mile each. More on the history of the harbour can be found here.
The company controls an area of 297 acres of which 47 is land.
The company employs 19 staff, including a three-person management team. Staff numbers have declined from a high of 42 in 2008/2009 largely because of a decision made by Stena Line to greatly downgrade their use of the harbour as a ferry terminal.
Yes, all staff below management level are members of trade unions and the company regularly engages with the various unions.
Under the National Ports Policy, published by the government in March 2013, Dún Laoghaire is designated as a ‘port of regional significance’. The policy notes that ‘the long term future of Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company will be in terms of marine leisure, maritime tourism, cultural amenity and urban development’.
No, the Government provides no funding for Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company.
Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company raises funding from a number of sources including property rental, ferry fees, charges for cruise vessels, mooring fees and parking charges.
All revenue raised is reinvested in the harbour. Stakeholders and the general public expect to see a harbour full of vitality, in pristine condition and properly maintained, but there is a significant cost to the staffing, maintenance and development of such a wonderful asset.
The Company has made substantial progress in restructuring its own business and has reduced total operating costs by 39% since 2009. Further details on revenue and expenditure can be found in the annual reports of the company here.
Following the decision of Stena Line in 2009 to significantly reduce the ferry traffic using the port, the company undertook a major restructuring of the business. After extensive consultation with stakeholders, the company published the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Masterplan in 2011.
The Masterplan seeks to extend the recreational and amenity value of the harbour; to promote investment; and to generate sufficient revenue from commercial operations to ensure the sustainability of the maintenance programme and marine facility that the harbour provides.
In short, the objective is to transform the harbour into a living, vibrant area, offering facilities for people to live, work and relax.
“To facilitate the continued development of the Harbour in accordance with a Harbour masterplan to be prepared by Dún Laoghaire Harbour Board in close conjunction with the Planning Authority. Any approved masterplan must adhere to the overall zonings, policies and objectives of the Development Plan.”
The Masterplan envisages development over a 15 – 20 year period. It will be reviewed every five years. Further details of the Masterplan are available here.
Dún Laoghaire Harbour is a wonderful public amenity with the East and West Piers already attracting an annual footfall of close to two million. A central proposal of the Masterplan is the development of an urban beach facility next to Berth 1 on the East Pier of Dún Laoghaire Harbour. The aim is provide greater facilities for users of the harbour and, particularly, to provide enhanced public access to the waterfront.
Inspired by the Badeschiff facility in Berlin, the Harbour Company – in partnership with Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council – has further developed the concept for this public bathing facility since the publication of the Masterplan. It will be comprised of a floating swimming pool containing fresh seawater. It will be permanently heated to 26°C using renewable energy sources. The floating structure will be a recycled barge, which will house both the swimming pool and an ‘urban beach’ (approximately 240m²).
A planning application of the development is before Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.Since it was first proposed, the design of the beach has been modified to ensure there will be no access issues for members of the National Yacht Club and particularly for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
In 2011, the Dún Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholder Group was formed to bring together various stakeholders with an interest in developing cruise business for the greater Dún Laoghaire area.
This stakeholder group includes Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company, Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and Dún Laoghaire Business Improvement District [BID] Since 2012, due to the attractiveness of Dún Laoghaire and its harbour, the number of cruise bookings has grown exponentially. The year 2015 will be the most successful ever for Dún Laoghaire in terms of attracting cruise passengers to the harbour, with 23 cruise vessels so far confirmed.
These ships will bring an estimated 100,000 passengers and crew to Dún Laoghaire Harbour in 2015.Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company will be working with the members of the Cruise Stakeholder Group to ensure that cruise passengers have a memorable visit to the town and are encouraged to return again. This will provide a valuable source of business for retail outlets and restaurants, and will deliver a huge economic boost for the town and its hinterland.
However, facilities are urgently needed to cater for the ‘next generation’ of larger cruise ships. There are no facilities for such ships in the Dublin area at present. Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company is finalising an application to An Bord Pleanála under Strategic Infrastructure Development to build a new €15m cruise berth facility to cater for these vessels and the additional passengers they would bring.
Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company is very conscious of its responsibilities as guardian of the history and heritage represented by the harbour. Dún Laoghaire retained a special place in the hearts of the hundreds of thousands of Irish people who emigrated through the harbour from the middle of the 19th century, right up the final sailing of the mailboat in 1976.
For this reason, it is particularly appropriate that one of the key proposals contained in the Masterplan is the construction of a diaspora centre at the very location which marked the final point of embarkation for so many of those who were forced to leave Ireland.Significant work has been done to advance this project, which would provide a unique visitor attraction. It would not only honour the Irish diaspora, but could provide a huge economic boost for Dublin, Dún Laoghaire and the country generally.
The diaspora centre will be an important outreach and networking resource for Irish communities to discover their heritage and connect with their global diaspora, as well as being a major tourist and visitor attraction.In March 2013, the government announced that it was seeking expressions of interest from potential partners to develop and operate a National Diaspora Centre and Fáilte Ireland was delegated to seek expressions of interest.
Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company has submitted a detailed proposal to Fáilite Ireland and the company is confident that Dún Laoghaire will emerge as the ideal location for the proposed centre.
The Dún Laoghaire Harbour Masterplan envisaged that any development of St. Michael’s Pier would comprise mixed uses of residential/hotel, leisure, food & beverage, enterprise and retail, together with associated car-parking and marine activity.
It also said any development must enhance public access to the waterfront and enliven this area of Dún Laoghaire, while also complementing the established Dún Laoghaire town centre.These proposals are been actively progressed at the moment.
There are four waterfront yacht clubs located between the East and West Piers (The Royal St. George; the National; the Royal Irish and the Dún Laoghaire; and the Dún Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club). In addition, there are two umbrella clubs, without premises, the Royal Alfred Yacht Club, and the Dublin Bay Sailing Club.
The sailing community is, and will remain, a key stakeholder in Dún Laoghaire. The clubs attract many visitors from home and abroad and the company is working closely with them to continue to attract major international sailing events to the harbour. The yacht clubs make only a very nominal contribution to the cost of maintenance and repair work.
Dún Laoghaire Marina, which opened in 2001, has capacity for up to 820 boats. The headquarters of the Commissioners of Irish Lights is located in the harbour area. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has a boathouse at the East Pier. Naval Service vessels are regular visitors to the harbour. More details about harbour users can be found here.
The Harbour Police are authorised by the company to police the harbour and to enforce and implement bye-laws within the harbour, and all regulations made by the company in relation to the harbour. Full details of the Bye-laws governing the harbour area are available here.
Annual reports and accounts, including details of fees and expenses paid to directors, are published each year and are available here.
What is the position regarding the proposed transfer of Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company to Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council?
The Government’s National Ports Policy said the long term development of a number of smaller ports, including Dún Laoghaire, ‘is best placed within their regional and local communities to allow both develop in a manner that is mutually beneficial’, adding that it was the intention of the Government to introduce legislation to allow for the transfer of these port companies to the relevant local authorities.
Publication of the legislation is expected in 2015. The final form of the relationship between these two organisations has yet to be determined.