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Seanad Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 14 Jul 1987

Vol. 116 No. 17

Urban Renewal (Amendment) Bill, 1987: Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The primary purpose of this Bill is to provide for the extension of the Custom House Docks area. The present boundaries of the area were defined in the Schedule to the Urban Renewal Act, 1986, and the Act made no provision for their alteration. It quickly became clear, when the Development Authority were set up and discussions with potential developers commenced, that there was an immediate need to extend the area to include the River Liffey quays adjoining it and, furthermore, that the successful redevelopment of the Custom House Docks area should not, and could not, be tackled in isolation from the adjoining docklands to the east of the present area. The Government decided that the area should be extended immediately in a southerly direction to the centre of the River Liffey and should, subsequently, be extended eastwards on a phased basis once development of the Custom House Docks has got under way. The Bill, accordingly, provides for the extension of the Custom House Dock area by order made by the Minister for the Environment with the consent of the Minister for Finance. The Bill deals also with other matters which arise, or will arise, as a consequence of the extension of the remit of the Authority.

The Government are committed to securing the early redevelopment of the Custom House Docks area in a manner which will benefit both our capital city and the economy as a whole. Indeed, the whole thrust of the present redevelopment effort has its origins in legislative proposals put forward by the Fianna Fáil Government in 1982 in the Urban Development Areas Bill, 1982. That Bill lapsed with the dissolution of Dáil Éireann on 4 November 1982 and it is regrettable that it took until March 1986, almost three and a half years later, before the Coalition Government revived those proposals and presented them in the form of the Urban Renewal Bill, 1986. It is a pity that this time was lost in securing the redevelopment of the area.

This Government are determined to ensure that there will be no more delays in securing completion of the task. I made it clear to the Authority last March that early and sustained progress was expected and I am pleased to say that the Authority responded by bringing forward their target dates for completion of the necessary stages of preparation, planning and development. Senators will be aware that an important milestone was reached last month when the Authority presented a planning scheme to me for approval. I will make a decision in relation to this scheme as soon as possible, taking account of the submission made to me by Dublin Corporation in relation to it. Senators will also be aware that the development work began on the site within the last few weeks with the demolition and clearance of some of the buildings which are not intended for preservation.

For my part, I have given an undertaking to keep under continuous review the legislative framework under which the Authority operate and to bring forward any necessary proposals to deal with any hindrances to the Authority in securing the redevelopment of the area. I have been in frequent contact with the chairman of the Authority in this regard and, arising from these contacts, the present Bill is both necessary and timely.

The basic purpose of the Bill, as I have already said, is to allow the Custom House Docks area to be extended and I have indicated the extensions which are proposed. The Bill allows extensions to be effected by order made by the Minister for the Environment with the consent of the Minister for Finance. This is in line with the procedure under section 6 of the Principal Act which allows an area to be designated by order for urban renewal purposes. Extensions are confined, however, to lands immediately contiguous to the existing area and situated between the southern boundary of that area and the centre of the River Liffey, or to the east of the area and lying between the Liffey and Sheriff Street Upper and Lower. It will be clear, therefore, that the purpose of these extensions is not to expand the Authority's jurisdiction to lands which are separate and distinct from the existing area. Instead, the purpose is to expedite the redevelopment of the existing Custom House Docks area by providing potential developers and investors with an assurance that the Government intend to see to it that the entire dockland area in the vicinity of the Custom House Docks is progressively renewed and redeveloped. In addition, the Bill will enable redevelopment of the existing area to be carried out in a manner which relates well to its surroundings and which reincorporates the site and the quayside into the life of the city. This is essential because of the importance of the site, the nature and scale of the development and the impact it will have on the whole fabric of the city centre.

The southern boundary of the area at present lies along the Custom House Quay but does not include the road, the quayside or any part of the River Liffey. It quickly became apparent that this situation was unsatisfactory and would restrict excessively the options available to the Authority in relation to roads and traffic arrangements, pedestrianisation schemes and environmental improvement and amenity works necessary to exploit fully the potential of the river and the quayside. One of the most important objectives of the redevelopment of the area must be to maximise the quayside and the river as an integral part of the fabric of the city and to exploit its value for the purposes of communication, recreation and amenity, and as a unifying link in the appearance and structural organisation of the city. The present boundary of the area militates against this objective. For this reason, the Government decided that the area should be extended to the centre of the River Liffey as soon as possible and I made an announcement to this effect on 10 May 1987 so that it could be taken into account by the Authority in the preparation of the planning scheme.

In addition to the riverside frontage to the south of the existing area, it is important that redevelopment enhances and relates well to other adjoining areas. Senators will be aware that the area is bounded on the western and northern sides by the Custom House, Busarus, the Postal Sorting Office and Connolly Station, all of which are unlikely to be the subject of major redevelopment in the foreseeable future. However, there is considerable potential for improvement and redevelopment to the east of the area where a good deal of land is in the hands of public bodies. The extension of the remit of the Authority in an easterly direction is, therefore, a logical and necessary step and provides the best means of realising the full potential of this area.

I would mention, in particular, that the local authority housing complex at Sheriff Street is already the subject of review by a special working group drawn from Dublin Corporation, the Department of the Environment and the Authority. There are serious social and environmental problems associated with the Sheriff Street flats complex which warrant attention in their own right. It is appropriate, however, that this area should be addressed also in the context of the redevelopment of the Custom House Docks area and the working group is required to consider all the options in relation to the Sheriff Street flats having regard to the need to improve the environmental conditions of residents, the development of the inner city and the redevelopment of the Custom House Docks. I wish to dispel any suggestion, however, that any decision has been made about the future status of this housing area, much less that it is to become the responsibility of the Authority.

Section 3 of the Bill will increase the number of ordinary members of the Authority from four to seven. This increase is needed to broaden and strengthen the range of expertise available on the Authority and to include, for example, more persons who have direct experience in the financing and carrying out of large-scale development proposals. The Authority at present consists of a full time chairman and four part time members. This is the smallest number of members on any of the 16 bodies under my aegis. The average number of members of these bodies is 14. Actual membership ranges from five to 36. The number of members of any statutory body must, of course be related to the functions and requirements of the particular body.

In the case of the Custom House Docks Development Authority, it is relevant to compare it, for example, to An Bord Pleanála which has a full time chairman and five full time members. In contrast, the size and structure of the Authority, with a full time chairman but only four part-time ordinary members, in my view, is not commensurate with the size and urgency of the task and the diverse range of functions to be performed. The Authority needs to be strengthened and supported by an increase in its membership, particularly having regard to the special expertise which will be required in the promotion and development of an international financial services centre. I should say also that the present approach of the Government to the size of the membership of the Authority is entirely consistent with their proposals in this regard in the Urban Development Areas Bill, 1982, and in the amendments which were put forward last year in both Houses to the Urban Renewal Bill, 1986.

Section 4 provides that the chairman of the Authority will have the statutory duty of ensuring the efficient discharge of the business of the Authority. A similar provision applies to the chairman of An Bord Pleanála under the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1983. It is desirable that an express requirement on these lines should apply to the chairman of the Authority who is, of course, a full time executive chairman.

Sections 5 and 6 confer necessary powers of land acquisition on the Authority. The Urban Renewal Act, 1986, allows only for land acquisition by agreement. The special powers of transfer of land by ministerial order under section 13 of the Act relate only to land in the Custom House Docks area held by the Dublin Port and Docks Board. All such land in the existing area has already been transferred to the Authority. Therefore, while these powers were adequate in relation to the existing Custom House Docks area, they would neither be appropriate nor adequate in relation to new areas which can be added under the provisions of the Bill. Sections 5 and 6 reflect the considerable differences in terms of land use and land ownership between the present area and the areas to be added to it in the future.

Section 5 confers powers of compulsory land acquisition on the Authority. The intention is that the Authority will have the same powers in this regard as a housing authority under Part V of the Housing Act, 1966. This section does not apply to land held by statutory bodies but will enable the Authority to acquire any other land that is situated in the Custom House Docks area, as defined for the time being.

Section 6 enables land held by a statutory body in the Custom House Docks area to be transferred to the Authority by order made by the Minister for the Environment with the consent of the appropriate Minister and the Minister for Finance and after consultation with the body concerned. Consequential matters, including the assessment of compensation and any necessary application or modification of other enactments, are provided for. As with section 5, this section will apply only to land which lies within the Custom House Docks area, as defined for the time being.

I think it well to point out that neither section 5 nor 6 can be used in relation to land forming the bed of the River Liffey, which is, of course, foreshore and is vested in the State. The granting of a lease of foreshore or a licence to erect structures on it would be a matter for the Minister for the Marine under the Foreshore Acts and this is not affected in any way by the Bill.

Section 7 extends from two years to five years the period within which grants can be made to the Authority under section 14 of the Urban Renewal Act, 1986. The existing period of two years from the establishment of the Authority is unrealistically short and needs to be extended having regard especially to the provision for an extension of the remit of the Authority.

The Bill as a whole is a reflection of the responsive and supportive role of the Government in relation to the redevelopment of this important area. The potential for redevelopment in this part of the city is immense. I believe that the redevelopment of the site and future extensions of it will contribute substantially to renewed growth in the building industry and the general economy.

There is great scope for imaginative and innovative design within the overall framework for the redevelopment of the Custom House Docks. The area offers a unique opportunity to exploit the relationship between buildings and water and to create a visually dramatic and at the same time attractive place for people to live and work in, and to enjoy as a leisure and recreational amenity. In other cities it has emerged that dockland development of this kind becomes a major attraction for visitors who come just to look and wander around, as well as serving as a major focus of commercial and social activity for the residents of the city.

One of the most important elements of this development will be the establishment of the new International Financial Services Centre. Arrangements for this development are well under way under the guidance of a special committee appointed by the Taoiseach and on which the Custom House Docks Development Authority is represented. Already, on the recommendation of the committee, special tax provisions to encourage the development of the International Financial Services Centre have been included in the Finance Act, 1987. These incentives are in addition to the incentives already available for other development on the site. The latter include rates remission and taxation allowances in respect of the capital costs of commercial buildings, the rent payable by traders and "section 23" type allowances for rented residential accommodation. The Finance Act, 1987 also enables these allowances to be applied to any extension of the Custom House Docks Area. Altogether, they add up to a very keen incentive package and should not only encourage primary development on the site but also allow rental costs to be held at very competitive levels compared with those obtaining in other centres. This will be particularly important in the case of the International Financial Services Centre.

Financial services is one of the fastest growing sectors of economic activity in the world and our aim is to put Ireland into the main stream of that growth. The south west corner of the site, adjoining the Custom House, has been earmarked for the centre in the planning scheme devised by the Authority. All the indications are that this centre will be an outstanding success. Major financial institutions from all over the world have expressed interest and a major marketing campaign is underway. In addition to the centre and other commercial activities, it is envisaged that the site will contain retail, cultural, residential and amenity facilities.

The important thing now is to ensure that every possible effort is made to achieve the objective of getting the right kind of development under way quickly, and that the momentum for progress is sustained. The Bill is an important step in this direction and I commend it to the House.

The city of Dublin, shortly to celebrate its millennium, has a long and proud history. Its location has been shaped by invasion and occupation and the ancient form has been determined by builders and merchants. We were fortunate that during the commercial development of the city in the 18th century James Gandon was encouraged to come here as a young architect, to design the new Custom House and the related dock area. Gandon's dock was superseded by the present dock basin which is commonly known now as the 27 acre site.

This area was the centre of commercial activity in Dublin for many years and I remember distinctly as a young boy walking down the docks which were always a hive of activity. Unfortunately, social and economic forces dictate that the city is constantly changing and the great change in this area occured over the last 20 years, when new cargo handling technology made the inner dockland redundant.

I suppose we can say as citizens that we are very fortunate to have an inner city dock, the construction of which represents a substantial engineering achievement in its day. It was also a political achievement for the previous Government when they established in November 1986 the Custom House Docks Development Authority under the Urban Renewal Act, 1986, the principal Act to which this amendant relates. I am sorry to hear the Minister say that there was such a delay from the time the Urban Renewal Bill of 1982 was introduced. There is a complete distinction between that Bill and the present one. The 1982 Bill so far far as I remember, had not the financial incentives the present Bill has.

The Authority were charged with the exciting and challenging task of redeveloping the now largely redundant, but once thriving Custom House Docks area. The purpose of the Urban Renewal (Amendment) Bill now before this House is to provide for the extension of the Custom House Docks area. It is difficult to understand how after such a short term an extension of the area is necessary. Of course, it was always the objective of the proposals for the Authority that they might extend their activities progressively and hopefully, as happened in other cities — especially in London — and that there might be a total regeneration of the entire obsolete docklands. I want to come back to the point at a later stage.

The Minister, speaking in another House, stated that the passing of the Urban Renewal (Amendment) Bill will demonstrate clearly the Government's intention and will enable the Authority to allay any fears that potential development consortia may have regarding the future of the lands surrounding the existing site.

On the easterly side of the 27 acre site there is a large housing development known as Sheriff Street flats; I understand there are over 400 flats in this complex. They were built at a time when there was full employment. Most of the inhabitants of these flats in the past worked on the docks. Indeed, by all standards it was a very thriving area and the parish of that area, Seville Place, was one of the most sought after parishes in Dublin at that time. Unfortunately, as I said earlier, the fabric of the area has changed completely due to new technology on the docks and many of the people living in the Sherriff Street flats complex have been scarred by unemployment. The quality of the flats leaves a lot to be desired in modern day living.

This morning in The Irish Times I found an interesting article on the 27 acre site. I quote from part of that article because it is quite relevant. It refers to the docklands in Britain.

The docklands were seen as the worst problem area in Britain, a backyard isolated from the mainstream of the city they used to serve. Close to half the area became derelict. Then, in 1981 came the London Docklands Development Corporation, established by the Tory Government to redevelop the area. The Docklands Corporation moved fast. In came £1,200 million of private investment in offices, warehousing and industry, and private housing. In came a plan for a £1.7 billion financial services centre. House prices soared spectacularily as young and upwardly mobile beneficiaries of the new "Big Bang" financial markets queued up to buy the now ultra fashionable riverside housing, with some flats going for over £300,000 a piece.

The casualties were the local community who had lived there for generations. Their appalling housing was pulled down in many places, to be replaced by developments for the new-inhabitants of the area. For those who remained — and there are a few — there is nothing offered. A whole community was moved on, the stragglers remained — together with some left wing activists calling themselves Class War — to harass and intimidate the well-off newcomers, and occasionally attack them, rob them or steal their cars.

It would be very regrettable if this happened in the area which we now refer to as the Sheriff Street flats.

As the Minister said, the Sheriff Street complex is already the subject of a review by a special working party drawn from Dublin Corporation, the Department of the Environment and the authorities under the chairmanship of Mr. Paddy Morrissey the housing co-ordinator of Dublin Corporation. If this working party in their report were to recommend that the Sheriff Street flats were to be detenanted and the residents to be rehoused in newly built houses on the eastern side of the 27 acre site in the kind of housing complex that would complement what has already been built by Dublin Corporation on the opposite quay, would the Minister be prepared to make the necessary funding available? That is the logical solution to the problem. The people in the area deserve new housing along the eastern side of the River Liffey. I asked the Minister this question because I understand that up to as late as last Thursday the Minister, since he became Minister for the Environment, has not sanctioned one inner city development for Dublin Corporation even though there are quite a number in his office awaiting approval.


Hear, hear.

I am pleased to note that in the planning scheme drawn up by the Authority there is a section dealing with community liaison. It states that in order to maximise the full potential for the development and to spread the benefits throughout the community, every effort should be made by developers to engage local skills and in particular to include workers from nearby communities. This is very laudable on the part of the Authority. I trust it is not just a pious hope because time and time again I have seen it written into development contracts that the developer will engage local skills and include local workers but, unfortunately, when a construction starts there are rarely any local people employed. If the development of the 27 acre site is to be successful it must have the harmony and good wishes of the local communities. In a strange way they are at the bottom of the social ladder and they will see the development as one which will provide for those at the top of the social ladder if they do not participate in some real way in the wealth that will be created. This would leave a greater scar on them than the unemployment and bad housing conditions which they suffer from at present.

I note that in the recent Finance Act the Minister moved an amendment giving himself power to extend the Custom House Docks area by order allowing for the rates incentives to be applied to the extended area. I want to reflect on the financial incentives there are available in the 27 acre dock site. The incentives will apply to all construction and reconstruction works carried out within a five year period following the approval of the planning scheme by the Minister for the Environment and the making of the relevant order by the Minister for Finance.

These incentives have an advantage over the incentives that are available in other designated areas in the city of Dublin. This is a little unfair. Under the Finance Act, 1986, a capital allowance for commercial development at 100 per cent will be provided by way of writeoff of capital expenditure. Only half this amount applies to the other designated areas in the city. When I spoke on the Private Members' Motion on the Dublin Metropolitan Streets Commission I said that if we are to succeed in revitalising the city of Dublin we must pay special attention not alone to the 27 acre site but to the other designated areas especially along the quays because developers will look on Dublin as a whole before they invest in the 27 acre site. It is important that this should be borne in mind and a fresh look should be taken to see what can be done to give developers elsewhere the same opportunities as developers on the 27 acre site have. If we fail to do this, the financial incentives for the other sites will not have the desired effect and could easily turn developers away from the 27 acre site.

I am disappointed to note that the Minister intends to increase the number of ordinary members of the Authority from four to seven. The present Authority have the necessary expertise to carry the project through. If the planning scheme they prepared is anything to go by, I feel they should be very successful. I am in favour of the extension of the site to the quayside, but I am not in favour of taking in half the river.

We are very fortunate in having two large docks — St. George's dock and the inner dock — which are contained on the site and I hope that an area will be found between the docks and the river for the provision of a marina which can be a very attractive amenity in a city. For a long time I have pressed for the establishment of a marina in the canal basin in Ring-send. There are many areas around the city which are right for this kind of development. I welcome also the fact that we will have a cultural centre and museum in one of the stacks. This is a very laudable idea.

Senator Haughey will know that at our cultural meeting yesterday we discussed the lack of facilities at the National Museum and the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art to display all the paintings that are there. It is very unfortunate that many good paintings are never put on display in this city because there is not sufficient room for them. I hope a cultural centre or museum like this will provide that facility so that we can put on display the wonderful treasures we have.

The development offers a unique opportunity to add to the social, economic and environmental qualities of Dublin and for that reason I look forward to the progress of the Custom House Docks Authority and I wish them well.

I will be very brief. I want to extend a very warm welcome to the Bill and I believe it has already received that warm welcome universally. When the Urban Renewal (Amendment) Bill, 1986, was discussed in this House I spoke at great length on the philosophy of design in general. At the time the Cathaoirleach thought I was speaking outside the terms of the Bill but as an architect I believed I was entitled to and would be expected to define the broad parameters of the philosophy under which I approached the Bill. At that time I took into consideration all the matters Senator Doyle has mentioned. There is no need to repeat what I said then because it is on the record of the House.

I said then and I want to say now that it is a pity the Government at the time did not take over wholesale the 1982 Bill because it was a far superior Bill both in terms of flexibility with regard to areas and the urban development commissions. It was a pity that these were not incorporated in the Bill. Members will recall that under the 1982 Bill the urban development commission were to consist of up to six members. It is consistent on the part of the Government to increase the membership to seven. I would opt for a greater number, perhaps eight. The Minister in the last Government said they were an executive body rather than a representative one. I accept what the Minister said and I believe this Bill is a big improvement.

When the Bill was debated in the Dáil a Deputy said that most of the problems in planning arise because planners draw lines on maps without a thought for the communities. I think there is some truth in that. On several occasions I asked for greater participation by the public. A weakness inherent in this Bill may be that the public may not get an opportunity to make suggestions before plans are approved. The Minister might consider greater liaison with the public. In other countries when plans are being prepared the communities participate. For example, in Sweden, as I mentioned in this House many times, when a housing scheme is being prepared the people who will live there, the people of the locality, the people who will matter when the scheme is completed, are taken in at the planning stage; their ideas are incorporated in the plan and in that way they become a central part of the plan. It is unfortunate that in this country we do not do the same. It is unfortunate also that we have reached a period of urban and rural decay in certain areas. From a broad point of view since we had the major planning Act in 1963 many people would have thought that we would be prepared for the development since then. Many people looking at the position would ask the question: "Would we be any better off if we had no legislation at all". I do not think we could be much worse off.

There are problems with regard to planning. These should be looked at and now is an appropriate time to do that. The development plans, for example, which the local authorities prepare are more or less ideal plans or concepts by the local authority but the local authority have no power and no finances to incorporate those plans. They are simply a yardstick against which proposals by individuals and groups in society are compared. There is an inherent weakness here. There is a weakness too, for example, where local authorities are not obliged to seek planning permission. They should be so obliged. I am aware of some instances of where housing schemes were started where the first indications residents in the locality had that the houses were to be built was when the contractor arrived to do the work. That is a mistake.

There are problems in the area of compensation, in the area of the preservation of trees and woods and so on but now is the time to deal with such problems.

I welcome also section 7 which extends from two to five years the period within which grants can be made to the Authority under section 14 of the Bill. This is important. I welcome in particular the fact that the area has been increased. I think it has been almost doubled. I am pleased, too, that half the river is taken into the scheme. In this connection I appeal on behalf of the Maritime Institute of Ireland that they be accommodated along the river. Wexford, for example, has a floating local museum which is very successful and would tie in with the overall development of the docks area. The Maritime Institute should get moorings along the river, which is now part of the docks area, for historic ships and boats doing research. Up to now I believe they could go to Alexandra Basin and remain there for a few days. Research, historic and scientific vessels should be accessible in the port of Dublin. This would require a maritime heritage area, perhaps part of the old warehouses I discussed in my contribution before. The Mariners' Church in Dún Laoghaire is an example. It has been converted to a museum. This is a very important aspect. The centre of Dublin should be available for environmental conferences. The Maritime Institute were just a voluntary body. They changed their constitution when they became a scientific and educational organisation with broader horizons getting a bigger audience. They want to move into the schools, the technical colleges and the area of higher education, into the actual educational sphere.

There is also the potential tourist attraction. In addition this development in this, an island country, will highlight the marine aspect involved. Next month there is a round-Europe rally, boats, or racing machines, as we might call them, could come into the Docks area at such times if it was properly developed. There is great potential in this regard.

I made a lengthy contribution on the last occasion and I do not think it would be appropriate to go over the same ground again. I extend a warm welcome to the Bill and wish it success.

I welcome the Bill. I would like the Minister's observations on the matter of the adjoining area of the inner city and some general remarks in regard to inner city problems. I am not trying to be destructive in any way but I hope the Minister or perhaps the Authority will be able to take these problems on board.

As we know there is a growing crisis in the capacity of cities to meet the demands of the most disadvantaged groups. The scale and concentration of the problem may vary from place to place but they all have one thing in common, they suffer from a general downward trend and the symptoms are always obvious. Ironically, adjoining the new development in Sheriff Street there is all the evidence we will ever need. The concern is whether the Bill will give Sheriff Street and its community a share in any of these spin off benefits. Will it, for example, help to create a more balanced and self sustaining community?

I submit that at the end of the day the contrast between rich and poor—and this is not particularly what the Bill is about but it is an observation which must be made — will remain as glaring as ever. The chances that people from Sheriff Street or from other deprived areas will move from being a group of poor and unemployed people to being a group who are highly paid, with good jobs is very remote indeed. I make this point even though the fabric of the Sheriff Street area has improved. However, I fear there is something built into society where the balance between the rich and poor will stay. There is nothing new in this observation. Cities have always attracted the poor. I was born and reared in the north inner city in the tenements where I spent most of my young life. The poor have always moved into high density accommodation with all its stress and resulting conflict. What is new is that the economic base of our cities has been eroded. In the Bill I see some hope of making the problem less acute. The Bill gives evidence that more needs to be done and the Minister referred to that in his Second Stage speech. The Bill may stimulate some work in the building area.

I wish to pursue the problem of economic erosion and jobs. The Labour Party are concerned that jobs must be an integral part of any plan, and this is a plan. The Bill is welcomed by the Labour Party as a good down payment, but always with the reservation that nothing less than a comprehensive attack on the forces which shape the development of the inner city areas will produce a significant improvement in the lives of the most disadvantaged groups. The problems of poor education, low incomes, and other forms of social malaise must be the top priorities every time we talk about the inner city or developments in the inner city. The inner city must be a top priority not only in any Government approach but in every party manifesto. All those problems taken together form an interrelated web from which it is almost impossible to escape.

Lest somebody might feel I have no appreciation of the work being done by Dublin Corporation in the city at present, I would like to point out the value of the good work being done by Dublin Corporation both in the matter of housing and the provision of recreational facilities. Normally those two things would be material that form part of the elements of that web I referred to. I emphasise that Dublin Corporation, Cork Corporation, Waterford Corporation etc, cannot out of their own resources do any more than replace the physical fabric of their cities. The problem of low incomes, bad education and different forms of social malaise are matters for Government and Opposition. They call for a cohesive approach particularly since we claim to cherish all the people equally. We stand up on occasions and sound justifiably indignant at the poor and the underprivileged not being treated correctly. We either talk about all the people being cherished equally or we talk about the basic right of equal rights.

Part of the problem stems from a lack of education and jobs with resulting low incomes and low health standards. The problems remain for us all to deal with and not for just one particular group. Whenever the question of the inner city comes up or when developments relating to the inner city are on the Order Paper, it is our duty to talk about the conditions obtaining in the inner city. We talk about the problems of the inner city or working in a cohesive way to deal with them but providing information barely scrapes the surface as the problems go a lot deeper than that. I do not remember — and I am not young — when the situation in the inner city was not as it is today. Perhaps there was difference in degree and one of the reasons for that was that the population was much smaller. I have no other experience of Dublin.

The usual argument is that we must attract investors and secure the development as a priority and that the results will benefit the community. I hope this is true and if it is true it poses the question: why is it a fact of life that the poor must wait while the rich get richer? We are told that if we allow development to go ahead — a road widening project or an industry to come in even if there is an argument over pollution — the poor and the working class people will benefit. The fact is that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

The basic problem facing our cities and the people living in them is that they expand faster than the resources and the capacity to make use of available resources is falling. The number and the range of jobs open to those with limited skills have declined. At one time we could say that those who moved out to the suburbs were leaving the disadvantaged behind but the effects of the recession, and technology etc. have widened the problem beyond the inner city. The more disadvantaged are left in the inner city areas. I will not go over the move to suburbia.

Where there is an equal access to resources there is reason to suppose that the marketplace values would correspond with social values. We cannot assume that the profits made from developments or by any one man will spin over or be any great help to any community. That is not to say that Dublin Corporation are not keeping an eye on the position of attracting employment into the inner city area as a result of this development. I talk about employment for people with fewer skills and not just high technology. It is likely that the development will be similar to the Wood Quay situation as it developed. I was not too happy about the Wood Quay development. I did not lie on the ground or anything like that but as a Dubliner I did not want to see Christ Church being obliterated. On the occasion of the protests at Wood Quay most of the protesters were from outside the area. That was all right because they were entitled to protest and they were very welcome, but the funny aspect was that when that development was completed nobody from the Liberties got a job working in the corporation building and certainly not in the office part of it. The same situation will arise here.

I do not want to go too hard on the developer. He is being encouraged and coaxed to come into the area. He is welcome, if he makes the problems of unemployment less acute. We cannot blame the developer for the development. Areas run down and they need to be built up again and the developers need to enter into the calculation of rebuilding the city but one wonders whether the local authorities could not do what the developers have done. Is it because the local authorities lack the driving force? Is it because there are so many stages in development and so many people with conflicting interests to be reconciled and so many road blocks to be circumvented? Is this why the local authority cannot do it? Is it because the developer has the power to command resources that help to create change? What is the problem?

I do not want to blame the developer. I want to know about the obstacle race that we set up for ourselves with all its subtleties, centres and controls. Do we not create the sort of society that we want? If so, are the community in a position to take over our cities and enable them through the local authorities to flourish and to change?

The answers to many of those questions cannot be found under the system at the moment. I am happy about the Bill but I have the reservations I have expressed. The problems of the inner city may lie in the fact that we have been concentrating a great deal on the symptoms rather than on the underlying economic and other factors that shape the development of the inner city. Has the condition of the inner city been exacerbated by the way in which Government have intervened? Have we hurt the inner city areas by some of our deliberations and deeds? Was it possible for us to untangle the influences that were militating against the inner city? We have been up to something for years, and I am not talking about just one Government. Government, Opposition and politicians of all shapes and makes are guilty in regard to the state of inner city.

The development itself has to be welcomed. As I have said, it is a very good down payment. It may encourage the building industry, and I agree with the Minister in that it may spark off something there, coupled with other events. The dock area must be dealt with. I am concerned as to whether the spin off there will go to the very underprivileged areas such as the Sheriff Street complex.

Another matter of concern is the increasing numbers on the Authority. I am not worried about the increase in the numbers but I see in the process an erosion of the powers of the Port and Docks Board. It seems that some of their functions will automatically pass over to the Authority. This is of concern to the trade union movement. After all, this development will affect a substantial part of the docks area which will have possibly 2,000 or 3,000 working class people living there. Therefore, the trade union representation now on the Port and Docks Board will have lost a certain degree of influence. I ask the Minister to consider taking a nomination from the ICTU in this respect and to place a least one member on the new Authority.

Hear, hear.

I thank the Minister for his very positive contribution to the House when introducing this Bill. I welcome the Bill which I see as further progress in bringing about urban redevelopment and inner city renewal. This process, of course, was initiated by the Fianna Fáil Government of 1982 when they brought forward the Urban Development Area Bill.

The Bill currently under discussion demonstrates very clearly that the Government are firmly committed to bringing about urban renewal, north inner city renewal and national recovery in general. Dublin City must now be called an unemployment black spot. In particular north Dublin has been hit badly by the international recession and the decline in manufacturing industry. Many housing estates in the Dublin area at the moment have an unemployment rate of between 70 per cent and 80 per cent. Indeed, the inner city too has been affected and is now caught in a spiral of economic decline. Many forces beyond our control have brought this about. However, the Government's commitment to develop the Custom House Docks site indicates their determination to tackle this employment crisis in the inner city head on, and I welcome that. The development of this site will boost employment and reverse the downward spiral of economic decline.

The inner city of Dublin, like many other inner city areas throughout the world, has many problems. Manufacturing industry for various economic reasons now tends to locate in suburban areas and has moved out from the centre city locations. In addition there is the serious problem of population decline. Whole communities have been relocated in western suburbs. Indeed, the local authority officially encouraged this for many years. Dereliction and urban decay now prevail in inner city areas and crime and vandalism are at high levels. In addition, the arrival of containerisation has led to a decline in docks area. The development of the Custom House Docks site can be seen as a bold attempt to make use of new technology and new economic conditions to bring about economic revival and inner city renewal in the docks area.

High technological developments such as the one being proposed for Dublin have been extremely successful in other countries and I have no doubt that the Dublin development will also be a tremendous success. The primary purpose of this amending Bill is to include the quay side in the area for redevelopment. This is of vital importance if the project is to be a success. I suggest that the initial legislation was flawed in this regard in that the major attraction of the area was excluded from the site for development, namely, the River Liffey itself. The River Liffey has always played an extremely important role in the economic and cultural life of Dublin city. It would be a serious error if the Custom House Docks Authority were to ignore the potential of the river, and I understand that a number of potential developers have pointed this out to the Authority. There is a heritage and a culture in rivers which cannot be ignored. Similar dockland developments in other countries have relied heavily on the fact that they were on a river edge to ensure their success. Such projects have led to the development of a new waterside architecture. I hope that will be so with the Dublin development also. Baltimore in the US is a good example of this. The river is an invaluable asset and its communication, recreation and amenity potential must be utilised to the fullest.

The Bill, however, does not only ensure that the Custom House Quay is included in the area for development. It also allows the Government to extend the area to the south and east of the existing site. This is an important step in that, as the Minister has suggested, it demonstrates to any potential developer that the Government are committed to redeveloping the entire docks area and not simply a part of it. I am sure such a commitment will be welcomed by potential investors. They know now that they are investing in an area which is targeted for long term economic development.

The Bill will also allow the Minister to increase the size of the Custom House Docks Development Board. The Government's recent decision to locate the financial services centre at the Custom House is a great boost for the board. The establishment of a financial services centre north of the Liffey is a great boost for the north side in general. In recent years much of the new office development has tended to locate in Dublin 4 and Dublin 6 and this has strengthened the north side-south side divide. However, this decision to locate on the north side of the Liffey will encourage other office development and this may lead to the economic development of much of the decayed urban areas of the north inner city. Mountjoy Square is a good example of this. Without meaning to be disrespectful in any way to the members of the board, it must be accepted that the provisions to extend the board membership are to be welcomed. The decision by the Government to locate the financial services centre at the Custom House Docks site is a good reason for this.

The Minister might also consider allowing local residents of the area to have a representative on the board to ensure that the local community are not alienated from the project. Indeed, this was mentioned by a number of Senators in this debate. The time is now right to extend the membership of the Custom House Docks Authority and I welcome the provision in the Bill which will allow this.

As I have said already, there is a need to involve the local community in this development if it is to be the success we all want it to be. It is people who make a city. It is now generally accepted that people should be encouraged to live in the inner city to ensure that it is a living city. Dublin Corporation in particular have recognised this after many years and are now providing high standard public housing in the inner city areas. However, the encouragement of private housing has not been so successful. I ask the board to consider ways of attracting private housing construction to this site. That is very important and I ask the Minister to comment on it.

The achievement of a social mix in housing is vitally important. In addition I appeal to the board to involve the existing local community in the development and in particular to encourage local employment. This has been mentioned also. It is essential that local employment be encouraged if the project is to be the total success we want it to be. If this is achieved I am confident that this development will be a tremendous success. This plan is indeed an ambitious one. It will bring back life to a section of the Liffey which up to now has been ignored.

The River Liffey plays an important part in the heritage and in the whole fabric of our city centre. Indeed it is fashionable to quote James Joyce when talking about this project. When writing about Anna Livia he notes that by the time the river meets Dublin Bay it has completely fallen from grace. It is polluted and ignored. He personifies the river and has her crying out the following: "I am passing out. O bitter ending! I'll slip away before they're up. They'll never see. Nor know. Nor miss me."

Like the present Government.

I wonder. This development, however, will ensure that life is brought back to this section of the Liffey. The museums, shops, craftworks, cafes, hotels and offices will ensure that new life is brought to the docks. It will contribute substantially to renewed growth and recovery. It will become a place of leisure and a recreational amenity and above all an enjoyable place to work. Joyce's commentary will no longer be true.

The special scheme of urban renewal which was introduced by the previous Government under the Urban Renewal Act, 1986, and the Finance Act, 1986, has been in place formally for just one year. Already it is achieving considerable success in the designated inner city areas of Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Galway. An impressive array of development projects is either already under construction or at an advanced stage of planning. The authorities involved report a continuing high level of interest in the development opportunities in these designated areas.

Section 27 of the Finance Bill, 1987, makes provision for the designation of areas for urban renewal purposes by order made by the Minister for Finance after consultation with the Minister for the Environment. Consideration may be given to other provincial centres to which the scheme might most appropriately be applied. So far no decision has yet been made in regard to urban areas such as Kilkenny, Dundalk, Wexford, Wicklow and so on. In his Dáil contribution to the debate on the Urban Renewal (Amendment) Bill, 1987, Deputy John Boland, former Minister for the Environment, stated as reported at column 1301 of the Official Report of the Dáil for 10 June 1987.

I am also disappointed that in this Bill the Minister deals only with one aspect of the 1986 Act, that is, the Custom House Dock Development Authority. I would have thought that he would have taken this opportunity to outline to the House the progress which had been made in encouraging development into each of the designated areas which were set out under the Principal Act — the County Boroughs of Dublin, Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Galway.

It is in that context and realising the need for overall national urban renewal as envisaged in the Urban Renewal Act, 1986, that I, as Mayor of Limerick, stated on 5 May 1986:

The urban renewal momentum has been greatly encouraged by the package of tax incentives for inner city redevelopment and reconstruction announced by the Government on 23rd October, 1985 and applied to Limerick and other cities by John Boland, T.D., the Minister for the Environment, when on 25th March, 1986 he designated a comprehensive and coherent zone of 39 acres which will now qualify for the special programme of tax incentives.

This package of financial incentives to promote urban renewal and development of substantial areas of our city is an exciting and challenging development.

In so far as my own city of Limerick is concerned, the Granary, which is situated at the heart of the area, acts as a marvellous flagship and anchor for its total redevelopment. I would like to acknowledge that the Minister of State, Deputy Ger Connolly, paid us a courtesy call in Limerick recently and spent the whole day with us. He was marvellously impressed by the work of redevelopment that is going on in Limerick. The designated area includes such important city areas in Limerick as Charlotte Quay, Johnsgate, and the marvellous river front area from King John's Castle to Sarsfield House. I am sure we will have the privilege in Limerick, and indeed in the other urban areas throughout the country, of Deputy Flynn, the Minister for the Environment, paying us similar visits, as he has time to do.

I, too, would love to see the Minister, Deputy Flynn, in Limerick as it is my neighbouring constituency but I wonder if you would get back the Bill before the House, that is now on the clár.

I am certainly on what is on the clár. This is the Urban Renewal (Amendment) Bill, 1987, and I think it is open to us to put down appropriate amendments to that Bill.

I was confused.

The basic objectives of the three year programme set out in the primary legislation are to stimulate investment in new building, reconstruction and development; to provide a major stimulus for the construction industry and to revitalise the inner city areas where so much dereliction and decay has been extensive and pervasive for many years.

In short, the purpose of the 1986 Act, the primary legislation which we should be discussing today, was to bring new life to the run down areas of the core of our cities so that these areas would again become attractive areas for living, working, shopping and leisure amenities. I would like to assure the Minister and this House that Limerick city, which has been to the forefront in these matters, has responded quickly and whole-heartedly to the Government initiatives on inner city redevelopment. Limerick Corporation with the assistance of that marvellous organisation, of which you, a Chathaoirligh, no doubt know a lot, the Shannon Free Airport Development Company, have prepared action plans for the development of the area. We have also prepared a marketing plan for the city.

Senator Kennedy, will you get back to the Bill we are dealing with there? Much as I know the area you are talking about I have, as Cathaoirleach, to clear this Bill before me. I do not think it has anything to do with what you are talking about at the moment. Let us get back to where we think we are.

He is on the summer tour.

I am suggesting that before you took the Chair we ranged over many items, including the planning——

It is not my fault if some other Cathaoirleach cannot control the Seanad.

I am suggesting to you, a Chathaoirligh, that it is open to this House and certainly to the Fine Gael Party to put down amendments to the Urban Renewal (Amendment) Bill, 1987.

We will wait until we get to Committee Stage but first we must deal with Second Stage.

I want to make my case on Second Stage and to point out that we in Limerick Corporation see ourselves as a development broker bringing together landowners, developers and potential investors, doing everything we can do to facilitate development and redevelopment proposals. I would like to point out to the Minister — I am making proposals now for the improvement of the original Bill — that Limerick Corporation, possibly uniquely in the country, are fortunate in that through a long process of land purchase, 20 of the 39 acres of the designated area are in the ownership of Limerick Corporation. We sought to promote a blend of development uses — retail, commercial, industrial, leisure, housing and amenity. The changes made in the Finance Bill are making it impossible for us to carry out the original blend. After an aggressive marketing programme and with the assistance of the Shannon Free Airport Development Company, we have secured private investment interests for the following proposals——

Would you please get back to the Bill before us? I have support in Limerick as well as you. If you want to make the points about Limerick in your amendments on Committee Stage, so be it.

I do not think it is open to me to do it on Committee Stage.

You are not going to do it any further now. Either speak on this Bill or bring in another Bill. I have to clear this Bill.

I want to put it on the record of the House, and I will be as brief as I can, that at the moment we have a £10 million multi-use complex at Patrick Street, Arthur's Quay, comprising retail amenity, office and multistorey car parking uses ready to go. I appeal to the Minister to give us the green light so that we can go ahead on this project. Negotiations are continuing with many developers. We have a £5 million civic centre at Merchant's Quay to accommodate the administrative offices, council chamber, court facilities and a museum. I am appealing to the Minister to give us the green light for this magnificant civic office complex.

I conclude by suggesting that there are many developers who entered bona fide into contracts, quasi-contracts, regarding developments under the 1986 Act. These developers are now reluctant to commit themselves to expenditure on projects of the magnitude I have outlined because they fear there will be an overrun on the deadline of 31 May 1987, and that they will be thus disqualified for eligibility for tax incentives. I suggest — and I do so in the context of the overall urban renewal programme — that the Minister should extend the expiry date for at least one year so that there can be a proper assembly of sites and that there can be subsequent planning, design and financing of projects because this takes a considerable amount of time. I am pleading that greater flexibility should be afforded to the construction phase of such projects. I suggest, therefore, that another Bill, to include all the urban areas of this city, should be brought forward immediately by the Minister.

Cuirimse fáilte roimh an mBille seo. Nílim chun mórán a rá ach ba mhaith liom pointe nó dhó a lua gur fiú smaoineamh orthu.

Tá an abhainn fhéin i gceist i dtosach, agus pé rud a déanfar ó thaobh foirgnimh a thógáil nó caitheamh aimsire a sholáthar le haghaidh muintir na tíre, cuirfidh abhainn ghlan go mór le háilneacht an dúthaigh seo. Is linn fhéin an Life agus is orainn fhéin a bhraitheann sé í a choinneáil glan. Ní éiríonn an t-uisce salach go dtí go sroiseann an abhainn Cathair Bhaile Átha Cliath. Dá bhrí sin, is ar mhuintir na cathrach a bhraitheann sé an Life a choinneáil slántiúil.

Nuair a bheidh an plean seo á leagan amach, tá súil agam go dtabharfaidh siad siúd atá i gceannas, aird ar fhiabheatha na cathrach agus má leagann siad amach a gcuid pleananna i gceart beidh gnáthóga feiliúnacha ann dos na cineálacha ainmhithe agus planndaí a mhaireann sa chathair agus seo rud a chuirfidh go mór le háilneacht na háite.

I welcome this Bill and I hope it will draw attention to the beauty not alone of the Liffey but to many other rivers in Ireland as well. I ask the Minister to insist that the planners take into consideration the wonderful opportunities there are at this stage for making the area suitable for wildlife. This, in turn, would add considerably to our own enjoyment of the area. Children would find it very suitable for projects. I know teachers are becoming far more conscious of the need for children to study the environment and they have the ideal opportunity at this stage, before the plans actually go into operation, to lay out the area in such a way that animals which already live in the city are actually encouraged to use this particular area in such a way that they can be approached and that teachers can bring the children from the inner city to work out their own particular projects. Rather than having to go to areas way outside the city, they would have wonderful opportunities in this part of the inner city. If during the summer anyone cares to go to the area where the car ferry comes in he will see a variety of terns nesting there — birds that winter in Africa and come to summer in Ireland. Many people think they are seagulls but they are actually terns which have travelled thousands of miles to nest in Ireland. The opportunities are there for the planners to make a wonderful wildlife area in the inner city of Dublin.

I again thank the Minister for bringing the Bill before us and I hope some attention will be paid to it. We never seem to learn from the mistakes of other countries. We go on making the mistakes they made but now we have an opportunity to plan this right from the word go and make it ideally suitable, not just for the animals but for ourselves, because it is our environment too. We are all part of the same environment.

I welcome the Minister to his new office and hope he is not wilting too much in the very heated and clammy environment we are working in today. I wish him well in his job and would like to assure him that, when he is not here, I am looking after his interests as a worker, to make sure that nobody will infringe on his rights and responsibilities.

I welcome this development in Dublin. It is critical that the city be looked at, and be looked at very carefully. I was going to speak on the natural environment, but I have no intention of trying to follow the excellent contribution of Senator de Buitléar. Teachers working, living and teaching in the area have told me they feel the environment should be made to fit the people, rather than people made to fit the environment. I believe there must be a balance between people and the environment. There are people living in the area, people working in the area, people living and working in the area but the fact is that there are no visitors to the area.

What about birds?

I was going to talk about birds and fish life in the area. Senator Hogan remarked on how badly polluted the Liffey is which we all agree is a matter of major concern. Would the Minister consider providing an aquarium in the area which could be developed and which could draw tourists and visitors to learn about the environment?

I approve of and support the idea of extending the area to be covered by this Bill with one reservation, infringing on the area which until now was governed by the Port and Docks Authority whose influence has been diminished and is now minimal. Whatever happens in the area the objective of the planner should be to let the city live and breathe again. The Minister's intention to increase ordinary membership of the board to seven is welcome. My reason for wanting it may not be the same as yours——


That is a game everybody plays so I will not be the first to throw that stone.

The Senator would not know anything about that.

I am sitting in the middle, an innocent at large.

Senator O'Toole without interruption.

Thank you for your protection. The members of the board consist of a hotelier, an engineer, an accountant and an estate agent but I would ask the Minister to put a few other people on the board also, preferably those who live and work in the area.

The Minister stated very clearly that he wants to make the area a place fit to work and live in but all the speakers so far have spoken about the amenities. Do not tell me people who live outside the area have the best understanding of the needs of those living or working there. The Minister will accept that if we set up something in Castlebar we would not need people travelling from Ballina to tell them what to do and vice versa. The Minister should keep that in mind. Workers and local residents should be represented. There has been only passing reference to the kind of people and community we are talking about. Who are they; what way do they live and work? First, 70 per cent are unemployed in that area and that is the most important thing to remember.

Senator Haughey referred to the need for employment and he is absolutely right. Of all the areas within the city this one most needs a boost and injection. In the Sheriff Street area, to which Senator Doyle referred, there are 200 flats but the population is just over 2,000. That is greater than the population of many small — indeed some fairly big — towns. It is a sizeable area and a great number of people need support and help as many are cramped in the worst kind of housing.

The reason I mention this — it refers to the Bill — is that there have been various recommendations over the years about this area. Planners have looked at what is happening in Sheriff Street and there has been a common bond between all the plans and recommendations about the Sheriff Street flats — to demolish them. One of the first conditions of the development of that area is that those flats should be demolished and replaced by proper inner city housing of the type the corporation are providing, to excellent effect, around the city.

The Minister made a passing reference to a study group of members of his Department, the corporation and of the Authority. The House has always been very quick to defend the county and city councillors and I would like to be first to defend them this time. I resent the fact that those people who were elected to represent me have not been asked for their views on the matter. This group will be making recommendations to the Minister on this area, which is germane to what we are discussing, but there is no representative of the city council although there are officials from the corporation, the Department of the Environment and nominated people from the Authority. That is not good enough. I appeal to the Minister — and this is something he can do by order — to also include elected people on the group. The city councillors deserve to be represented on that body. The word on the street is that a member of the Government, who shall be nameless, representing the same area, did not know anything about this study group until he heard about it in the Minister's speech in the Dáil but I am sure that is not true. I appeal to the Minister to remember the elected personnel.

The financial centre which I presume will be a showpiece certainly should not have a ghetto on the far side of the boundary wall. The estimate is that up to £300 million would flow through this financial centre over the period of five years. The kind of development I am talking about in terms of putting people in a better environment would cost a very tiny fraction, less than 5 per cent, of that money. The flats should be replaced with innercity housing in a modern development. These people are underprivileged and disadvantaged and many of them have been driven to fight to survive in ways not acceptable to the majority.

Senator de Buitléar mentioned schools. Teachers in the area asked me to tell the Minister they are concerned about the environment and about where the pupils they teach come from. They want the area developed to include housing. I know the costs and difficulties involved but I ask the Minister to create an environment which will attract visitors and to have work places which will provide employment.

In terms of representations on the board, traditionally part of this area came under the jurisdiction of the Port and Docks Board and traditionally the Port and Docks Board had representatives from the trade union movement. The Dublin Council of Trade Unions have always nominated a couple of people to the Dublin Port and Docks Board. I mention this because good public and industrial relations demand that workers should be involved and should be part of decision making which concerns them. There are good practical reasons for this apart from the philosophical ones which I will not mention. The practical reasons are that if you involve people in decision making, they are more likely to accept it and to sell it to their fellow workers.

I ask the Minister to continue the long tradition of involvement of workers in the Port and Docks Board in the new Authority. The prospect of an Authority whose membership is comprised of people from outside the area is not really an attractive one, nor do I believe in all honesty that the Minister would find it attractive. I do not think it is a workable or good idea to have an authority imposed on an area. Of course one has to import outside expertise — one does not want to be too incestuous about this kind of activity — but it is important to get a proper blend. In the words of the Bill if we are endeavouring to create work areas or amenity areas local input is needed. There is no gainsaying that fact — we need people living and working in the area.

I want to air a certain worry I have about the proposed financial services centre. It is inter-related to many other things. In this area of the inner city there is a huge drugs abuse problem. Much of that is tied in with an international trade and international finance. One of the recommendations last year of the European Parliament Special Committee on Drugs Abuse was that there should be access to information from financial institutions. Many countries have legislation which allows the crime investigators access to information from the financial world or centres. Unfortunately we do not have legislation which would facilitate that kind of activity.

The horror I foresee is that that proposed financial services centre could turn out to be a sort of world money-laundering area of dirty money. I am not saying it would happen but it could happen. If we are to develop this area then we should place conditions on the type of development to be allowed. For instance, it should be conditional that information would be retained, that information would be available for the tracing of money from accounts, from banks, from country to country and so on if it is to be channelled through here. Surely the last thing the Minister, the Government or anybody else would want is a financial services centre which would in any sense facilitate international racketeering. That could happen because some of the provisions of other legislation are not sufficiently strong in this respect. I would ask the Minister to take that reservation on board.

I do not say this by way of criticism of the Bill. That aspect is not covered by the Bill as drafted. Rather I raise it as a sincerely held anxiety of mine and of many other people. Certainly we do not want to build or lay the foundations of anything which would tarnish our image in the eyes of the world. As the Minister said, we want something positive and progressive. Certainly the Bill is worthy of support. I hope its provisions will not be abused, that the human environment and flora/fauna environment would be able to be part of the proposed plan and that there will be an input on the part of the local people, the workforce. With that many-faceted approach it can be a success. I wish the Minister well with regard to it.

I welcome the opportunity of contributing to this debate. I wholeheartedly welcome the Bill, which is necessary and timely. It is a tangible demonstration of the Government's tremendous commitment to our securing real economic development.

This Bill constitutes just one of the ways in which the Government have demonstrated their willingness to respond in a flexible, imaginative and, above all, practical manner to the needs of this whole redevelopment project. Within a short space of time the necessary groundwork has been laid for what will be the flagship of the Custom House Docks area, namely, an international financial services centre. Considerable efforts have been made by the Taoiseach and his Ministers to promote the Custom House Docks project at international level. The Minister for the Environment, too, has shown great enthusiasm and commitment and has managed, within a short period, to have real progress on the site. I understand demolition works have already commenced. The Minister mentioned he is currently considering the draft planning scheme submitted by the Authority.

I believe this redevelopment effort was first proposed by the Fianna Fáil Government in 1982, encompassed in the provisions of the Urban Development Area Bill, which lapsed with the dissolution of Dáil Éireann on 4 November 1982. It is a pity that three-and-a-half valuable years elapsed before the Coalition Government recognised the importance of those proposals, before reviewing them and presenting them to Dáil Éireann in the form of the Urban Renewal Bill, 1986.

The Minister for the Environment, in introducing this Bill so swiftly has clearly demonstrated that no more valuable time will be lost. I believe he has the will, initiative and determination to ensure that the Custom House Docks project will be brought to a satisfactory conclusion to the benefit of our economy. It it my belief it will go a long way toward revitalising this area or our capital city.

The Bill is primarily an enabling measure aimed at developing, on a gradual and phased basis, the lands to the east of the existing site. This areas is ripe for redevelopment. I have no doubt it will prove attractive to developers when they see what can be done and the potential of the present site.

The problems of the inner city are social and economic. It is my belief that the approach adopted by the Government, namely, promoting worthwhile and productive investment and development is the only way in which the necessary resources ultimately can be provided to tackle the social problems especially the creation of lasting employment. I have no doubt that the Custom House Docks project will make a major contribution in terms of job creation and social rehabilitation in the inner city. The restoration of confidence in the economy and the promotion of economic growth are, and should be, the overriding objectives of the Government.

The provisions of the Bill will enable the Minister to extend the existing area immediately to include the Liffey quays and part of the River Liffey. Obviously this is desirable. I doubt if anyone would quibble with the aim of maximising the impact and the value of the River Liffey to this development project. I note from reading the Official Dáil report of the debates that the Minister was the subject of some adverse criticism vis-a-vis his proposal to increase the membership of the authority. I believe he has answered such criticism in the best possible way, that is, pointing out the logic, facts and practicalities of the situation obtaining. It was asking a bit much to expect five individuals — four of whom are part-time and who have other interests and responsibilities beyond the area of responsibility of the Authority — to have the full range of skills reuired and devote adequate time to ensuring the success of the project. An increase of three in the number of ordinary members of the Authority, as proposed in the Bill, will still render it a relatively small and tightly-knit body by normal standards. The Minister has struck the right balance, achieving or ensuring the necessary range of skills while maintaining the benefits to be derived from having a small expert team.

The urban renewal programme is a major initiative and I welcome the fact that the Minister for Finance has made provisions in the 1987 Finance Bill to extend the package to carefully selected areas throughout the country. If I may be a little parochial, very briefly I would like to mention my home town of Drogheda which is a medieval town, has many important historical and national monuments and has excellent tourist potential. However, in recent years the town has been partially by-passed through the construction of a national primary route which has changed the character of the town in so far as a number of the old streets have disappeared and large derelict areas of the old town are now visible. It is imperative that these areas be redeveloped if Drogheda is to play a major part in what we are told is the fastest growing industry in Europe namely tourism.

Back to the Bill, Senator.

Back to Dublin.

I apologise and I will get back to the spirit of the Bill. It is an excellent initiative. In conclusion, I welcome the Bill and look forward to its early enactment so that the momentum and progress that is already in evidence in relation to the Customs House Docks can be maintained and, if possible, extended.

Speaking on this Urban Renewal Bill, a little doubt arises in my mind as to why I would have to question the purpose of bringing in the Bill at this stage, just a few months after this Government have come to office and a few months after the Minister has taken up office. Maybe it has a little to do with section 3 of the Bill which increases from four to seven the number of members; maybe it has to do with a lot of other matters in the Bill as well. This matter of membership concerned Senator O'Toole very much. I could hardly let him away with saying that he wants other people on the board. I happen to be in the same profession as one of the people he mentioned who is already nominated. I always considered myself as a person outside my profession. He wants a few councillors recognised and maybe it is time to recognise some of the local councillors. Perhaps the Minister could look into Senator O'Toole's suggestion in that case.

The previous Government and the previous Minister, Deputy Boland, introduced a Bill similar to this one and put it through this House. That was an imaginative Bill designating specific areas of Dublin, Cork, Limerick and later Waterford and Galway after representations from the local people there including people like myself, business people, people involved in the business sector and local authorities. In our case a 14 acre site was finally included in the designated areas. The creation of the designated areas will have, and in our own case is having, far reaching effects in bringing back to life areas in our cities which had lain dead for years. This is as a result of the incentives in the original Bill introduced in 1986.

We must also compliment the local authorities for their dedication in getting schemes off the ground in the designated areas. They have taken the initiatives that were required to encourage schemes and have appointed officials to deal with schemes in the various areas. Some of those schemes are only starting and others are still at planning stage. The production of a Bill at this stage giving the power greatly to enlarge designated areas has caused some small confusion to potential developers of the present designated areas as to the effect it would have on their plans for the development of the present areas. That is causing some concern and maybe the Minister in his reply might refer to that.

It might have been better to have waited a little while, to allow the present scheme to continue so that the real advantages could be seen. The scheme when set up by the previous Government was a pilot scheme to prove by practical application that the generous incentives offered could have the effect of transforming large and badly neglected areas in our cities at no cost to the State. It was also set up by the previous Government to help the building industry create jobs which it did do and is doing, to help that industry which apparently has been sadly neglected by the present Government.

I have no doubt that the present scheme is a success. I see the evidence of this in my own home town. I believe that when the time limit runs out on the present designated areas the scheme should then be extended to cater for other areas in our cities that have been neglected. Indeed, it should apply to other larger towns where urban renewal is greatly required. I recommend this to the Minister and I understand that the passing of this Bill will allow the Minister to extend the present designated area and to create new separate areas. I recommend that the scheme be extended to other neglected areas of our cities and large towns.

Section 7 allows the extension from two years to five years of the period within which grants can be made to the authority under section 14 of the Urban Renewal Act. I presume that this applies only to the Custom House Docks site. Senator Kennedy, in his wide ranging contribution, asked if there would be an extension of the present designated areas, even if it was only a year, or may we take it that that section would cover the other designated areas as well?

I can guarantee that I will stay firmly within the Pale, within Dublin, this evening. There is a certain sense of nostalgia about this Bill, indeed about the whole day here because virtually all the legislation today was prepared and put into effect during the lifetime of the last Government, so we are now seeing coming before us ideas and projects prepared during that time. The Custom House Docks Authority were established by the last Government. That was an imaginative and pragmatic decision clearly thought out, with a definite mandate and with a real sense of urgency surrounding its implementation. In design, in concept and in execution, it owes a great deal to the Minister of State, Fergus O'Brien, and to the then Minister, John Boland. To listen to the publicity from some of the speakers on the far side here this evening one would be forgiven for thinking that the whole idea was conceived and reached fruition only after Fianna Fáil came to power. What we have been hearing is yet another bit of that rewriting of history which tends to take place from time to time.

I want to put firmly on the record the origins of the Customs House Docks Authority and also to bring into focus what was intended by the progenitors of this scheme. The inner city was to be revitalised in an urgent, imaginative and integrated manner. The authority to guide and direct its revitalisation were to be a small, expert and independent body, small enough to allow the quick taking in of ideas but with sufficient expertise to ensure that the right decisions were taken.

This brings me to the present legislation and to its purpose. I honestly believe it is unnecessary legislation, the real purpose of which is cloaked in a Bill which is far longer than it need be. Like many others, I am baffled as to why this legislation should be needed so urgently. There are no strong reasons as to why the area now needs to be extended. The original development was advertised on the basis of the 27 acres and plans to date are based on that area. I have no objection to these extra areas being included and if the inclusion means that the new areas can benefit from urban renewal, then all to the good. However it might have been far more sensible to develop ahead on the basis of the already designated area, to establish the success and the viability of that development, establish a certain character and ambiance in the new development and to then take stock of what had happened. If, then, it was felt that there was the potential for further development the new areas laid out in this Bill could be taken in.

That point about the extension of the area is debatable and I certainly will not be dogmatic about it. There may well be very valid planning reasons, although I have not heard them, for the need for the enlarged area. I would like to know, however, if the call for this change came from the Custom House Docks Authority themselves, which I doubt very much, or from the Minister, or from even higher up. If so, was this an attempt to reshape a piece of Coalition legislation, to put a Fianna Fáil imprint on it? Is this Bill brought in to ensure that even the area of this idea, in fact, is a Fianna Fáil area rather than the one fixed upon, voted upon in this House during the lifetime of the last Government? More to the point, however, and perhaps the real reason behind this unnecessary legislation is the extension by three of the number of members on the Authority as proposed in section 3.

The last Minister established a highly competent, energetic, determined and non-political Authority. I ask the question — and I am not prejudging the answer — are we now in danger of seeing the Authority politicised? Will we see three Minister's men or more likely three Taoiseach's men or women added to the Authority so that a centre of gravity loses its objectivity and independence and is weighted in the political direction of the Minister or the Taoiseach? This is a serious point and the Minister can prove me wrong by appointing three expert and independent members. I am not all that concerned if the people appointed have political affiliations because I have always fought against the view that involvement in open democratic politics of any party should render one unfit or unfitted for service on a State board.


Hear, hear.

I have always felt that all parties should try to bring in the very best people in our community. There is no reason why these people should then be debarred from serving on State agencies. I said before that it is one of the hallmarks of lazy journalism to assume that, because somebody who has a political involvement is appointed to a State board, that person is thereby in some way tainted or unfit. Some of the best members of State boards are people who make no secret of their political affiliations. It would be a very sad day if membership of any political party should be seen as debarring a person from serving on a State board.

I am asking that the people who are appointed by the Minister when this Bill goes through will have a strong sense of independence so far as their performance is concerned. Only time will tell. I hope that the three new members will have a strong sense of independence and will have a positive and distinctive contribution to make. Ultimately that is the only criterion by which the extension of the number of members of the board will be judged. While I may have doubts about the Minister's bona fides in this regard, I will reserve judgment and I hope he proves me wrong in all of this. In passing on this point, the point raised by Senator O'Toole is perhaps a valid one. I would have preferred to have seen a smaller and more compact Authority. I would have more faith in the existing idea of the Authority. If we are going to extend the number perhaps there is room for representation of the type mentioned by Senator O'Toole.

I would like to turn my attention to one further aspect of this legislation. Increasingly since the advent of the Government this development has been spoken of as the hub of a great new international financial services sector capable of earning billions of pounds for this country in a short space of time. I hope this is so and that it works. However I would like to see spelt out, not necessarily by the Minister this evening but by those behind this idea, in greater detail what is involved. I would like to see the very many difficulties, some of which are being pointed out in financial journalism at present, examined in great detail. I know Mr. Dermot Desmond, the man who is publicly credited with the idea for this centre. I respect his past performance. He has an intuition and insight into the workings of the financial market.

I am a little bit worried about the emphasis which is being placed on the financial services sector as being the key element of this development. I would like to see some of the difficulties involved in setting up such a financial services sector spelt out. We have been told a great deal about the potential of this sector. The Government are right to grasp at this idea and give it their backing. It would be a disaster for this development if, because of something which was not properly thought through or the possible objections and pitfalls which had not been guarded against, the new Custom House Docks area became a white elephant. I hope it does not. I wish it every success and I hope all of the possible pitfalls and dangers will be fully thought through. There is always a danger in hurried legislation on a concept which is put into place very quickly that perhaps it will not have been fully thought through. That is the risk. The up side of that may be that it succeeds and succeeds very quickly. I am simply sounding a note of caution.

I will sound a second note on that I say that the Custom House Authority were planned originally as a major part of the revitalisation of what should be the most attractive and valuable part of our capital city but which over many decades has become obsolete and a monument to decay and desolation. We need to build up a living organism, an area with a life of its own 24 hours each day, seven days each week — a place where people live out full lives; a place where the terns can nest; a place where people interact with each other; a place which has the vitality to attract people in from all parts of the city and at the same time to be a centre of attraction for tourists and a place where the best of Irish produce and manufactures can be put on display. It has to be a living showcase which demonstrates some of the best aspects of Irish life and a place where people want to live and will give it an air of being lived in.

It is for that reason that there must be plenty of housing. It must be true to its origins and to the area in which it exists. There must be plenty of housing and attractive mixed housing in this area. It must not become a place for the yuppies and the swells. I believe there are some swells in Castlebar but after last Sunday I would have my doubts about any living beings surviving for long in Castlebar. There are certainly many of them in Deputy O'Toole's organisation.

I would like to hear what the Senator has to say about Castlebar.

I am not talking about Castlebar. I said there may be some swells in Castlebar. Swells are a new phenomenon following on from yuppies and they are to be found in Senator O'Toole's organisation — they are single women earning lots of lolly.


I hope this new development does not become a place simply for these new phenomena — the drinks, the swells and the yuppies. It has to be a place where there are real people living. I hope that the emphasis on the financial services sector will not detract from this point. With those reservations I wish this unnecessary legislation well.

I welcome the idea of developing the Dublin Port and Docks area. Much discussion has gone on about the 27 acres. I am annoyed to think that we are again increasing the membership of another authority from four to seven. Questions have to be asked with regard to the provisions of this legislation and the Minister's commitments. The Minister said: "Instead, the purpose is to expedite the redevelopment of the existing Custom House Docks area by providing potential developers and investors with an assurance that the Government intend to see to it that the entire dockland area in the vicinity of the Custom House Docks is progressively renewed and redeveloped". With regard to the amount of money that private investment will be putting into this area, the impression is that Dublin did not get the same incentives for inner city development and renewal schemes as other cities got. I am aware of that. In the services area, particularly the financial institutions which we imagine will be working in this area, could we see the same type of scheme work here as we saw in the old London docks area. If we see something of that nature I will not question it.

There is one area I should like to question. An impression might be given that the Government are prepared to say we would consider developing this area in priority to every other area; in other words, it would get priority over everywhere else. Will that be the case? Will more money go into it? Is that the reason the £10 million was stopped for the other scheme in Dublin that was passed in the previous Government? In this area the financial institutions are getting the tax benefit of 10 per cent on all corporation taxes. In other words, if they were not developing or manufacturing they would still pay only 10 per cent on their capital profits. This happens only in the free zone area in Shannon where only 10 per cent is paid. However, I am afraid that the rest of the Dublin area could suffer as a result of the tax benefit proposed in this case.

While passing through Dublin recently my own family remarked on the amount of inner city schemes that are now going on in the building of houses in particular, not apartments or flats. The inner city schemes which are going on are excellent and long may they continue. Dublin has improved as a result of these schemes but much still remains to be done. The capital city is not looking good. For many years we did not recognise that and we were prepared to extend rather than improve the inner city. I would like clarification as to whether we can bring about some improvement in this 27 acre site.

Much discussion has taken place about this site over the past few years and many people throughout the country have asked questions about it. Great ideas were put forward and bodies and groups were set up. I wonder if there was a need for all that just to improve this particular area? Is there need for this Bill, as Senator Manning has said? We are giving commitments with an assurance that the Government intend to see that the entire dockland area is speedily improved. Are we saying the people who will set up there will get more incentives in comparison to other areas? In other words, are other parts of the country going to suffer as a result? That is the worry. Will the Cork area get less money? Will the Limerick area get less money? Are the incentive schemes in Cork going to be pushed as well as we would like them to be pushed? Will we see a situation where we might be better off developing in Dublin rather than in Limerick or Cork?

Or Castlebar.

Will lines be drawn in other cities such as Cork, Waterford and Limerick — I know the work in Limerick is going on excellently, although I am not from Limerick and the work in Cork is certainly moving in the right direction. This Bill does not provide for an extension to other areas. Can we say that the incentive given in Dublin for example, the 10 per cent tax will be given in the other cities. There is no question of that. We have a situation where we will have seven people deciding whether the incentives that are available in no other area of the country——

Those seven will have nothing to do with it at all.

Will the Authority have the right to say to people who set up here that they will get certain incentives? If the Authority do not have that right, I question why they are there. The Minister says he recognises that the three additional newly appointed members should have the experience of making sure that we sell this place properly. There has been reference to more persons who have direct experience in the financing and carrying out of large scale development proposals. The Minister says the three extra members would have the experience of that kind. That is understandable.

That is all the Senator knows.

The point is that this area could be sold better with the tax incentives available which the other areas do not have. In other words, will we give the same tax incentives to those setting up financial institutions in the Limerick, Cork and Waterford areas? It should be the same throughout the whole country. In this connection why centralise? It would be nice to give certain incentives to international financial institutions to set up in Ireland and I would welcome that. However, I do not welcome the idea of them being in one particular area, where only 27 acres are designated. The incentives are excellent. I am not objecting to them but I would like to see them extended to other areas. I have no objection to giving incentives to Limerick, Waterford, Castlebar or anywhere else for that matter——

A Senator

Or Galway.

But let us not give an impression that the 27 acres in Dublin will be the sole beneficiary. I know the Minister is aware of it.

It is going to be the only area where those financial incentives can be provided and the Senator is aware of that.

Could I broaden it a little more? How did they survive in Shannon?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Chair hopes the Senator will not broaden the debate too much. The Bill is quite specific.

The Minister is the only person——

The Cathaoirleach was more lenient.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Minister will have an opportunity of dealing with all these points when he is concluding the Bill.

Before the Leas-Chathaoirleach came in the Senator could ramble where he liked.

We know this 27 acre site is going to be the option and I resent that. The Minister said a lot more money will be pumped into this 27 acres than in other areas of Dublin. I would be afraid of that.

Whose money, Senator?

All I am saying is that I would like to see the city of Dublin improved. We want to ensure that the whole of Dublin will gain as a result of the incentives. Dublin is in a dire state. I resent the fact that our capital city has deteriorated so much. For many years, regardless of who was in power, nothing was done to improve it. We went to Tallaght and built on green fields because it was easy. At the same time if there are tax incentives I do not see why similar tax incentives cannot be given to other areas. They are already in other areas. In the Shannon free zone massive work has taken place because of these incentives. I argue that the same incentives should be given to the free port area in Cork. That is why I question it. If the manufacturing or service sector in the Cork area got the same tax incentive there could be a massive improvement in the Cork region. That is why I make no apologies to the Minister for raising this argument. The Minister says that more moneys may go into the 27 acres concerned than into the rest of Dublin. That could be very easily to the detriment of Dublin as a whole. The Senators representing the Dublin area should very seriously question that.

I will be brief because this matter was debated in the context of the Finance Bill and also because many of us touched on it in relation to the abolition of the Dublin Metropolitan Streets Commission. We certainly gave vent to our feelings about the dereliction, the decay and the complete disgrace which Dublin has become. I cannot help but think that Fianna Fáil and the Minister are embarrassed by the abolition of the Dublin Metropolitan Streets Commission and that in an attempt to make good something of that debacle and disappointment, they are extending and expanding in the Dublin city docks area.

I am in favour of inner city renewal and development. In Waterford the designated area is a hive of activity. It is quite apparent that developers, builders and people who are interested in the development and incentive package have seized on the opportunity and are rapidly getting to grips with the development. Already we are beginning to see the kind of revitalisation and improvement to the inner city which I have no doubt will be the case in the Custom House Docks area when building gets under way.

One thing concerns me and the Minister touched on this in his speech. The Minister accepts that there are serious social and environmental problems associated with the Sheriff Street flats complex; indeed there are. Certainly the public representatives of that area have spoken many times about the various problems attendant on the marginalisation of people, which is part and parcel of the area. I am concerned that the Custom House Docks site with its financial services centre and sophisticated buildings and development would be totally unrelated to the lives of the people surrounding that area. On a radio interview I heard Deputy Tony Gregory give vent to his feelings in that matter. I quite understood what he was talking about when he expressed a view that he wished to see opportunities and jobs and chances for involvement given to the people who live in the area surrounding the Custom House Docks site. That is perfectly reasonable and I hope the Minister has taken this aspect into account in the planning of the area. In his speech, the Minister placed tremendous emphasis on the financial services centre — I welcome the announcement in today's news that AIB have applied for a licence to operate in the Custom House docks scheme — but the Minister says a great deal less about the cultural and amenity side of the development. I hope when he is replying at the end of the Second Stage speech that he will perhaps be able to sketch even in a preliminary way what plans, ideas and scope there is for a cultural and amenity centre. There has been talk in the past of siting museums and galleries and of having a major exhibition centre as part of the Customs House Docks site. I would like to hear more from him about this.

I refer briefly to a little problem we have come up against in Waterford in the development of inner city renewal. This problem may or may not become part of the Custom House Docks excavation work. We have found, because we are dealing primarily with an inner city area, that we have uncovered and discovered archaeological remains of significance, not of major significance, but we have employed archaeologists to do a painstaking and careful excavation prior to commencing building. In fact the actual scheme that won out in the end in the design competition was one which incorporated above ground parking so that we could, when we had reached the limits of archaeological exploration, concrete over and not disturb any further what archaeological remains existed. All of this has eaten into the time limit which is part and parcel of the designated area plan. I ask the Minister to consider that should this arise either in the Customs House Docks site or in any other inner city area where there is per force excavation prior to commencement of building that he would — because I am sure he is not a philistine — allow for——

How could he be since he is a member of the INTO?

——an extension of the time span in order to permit a careful archaeological investigation to take place before building. It is something that is bound to happen if you are building in an inner city area where centuries and centuries of people have established habitats and have lived their lives, where there has been building after building and where there will necessarily be reminders and remains of the centuries of civilisation that existed in those places before.

I refer also to the increase in the number of ordinary members of the Custom House Docks Development Authority from four to seven. I can be accused of cynicism but I suppose one is not in politics without at least suffering slightly from that condition which is a healthy condition if kept in moderation. Quite plainly I see that as being a permit to allow the Minister's men to sit on the Custom House Docks Development Authority.

This Bill will pass. I recognise a fait accompli when I see one. I hope the Fianna Fáil Party see fit to appoint some competent women to that Authority, given that party's disgraceful performance in the nomination of 11 Senators to this House, not one woman among them.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

That is hardly relevant.

That is not in any way to take from those very fine 11 people who were nominated but here is an opportunity for the Government party to redeem themselves and I hope they will do so; otherwise, I will be extremely disappointed. Many people will be observing the selection of these people. I would hope that they would be competent and that they would have something to contribute but that in addition it would be possible, and I have no doubt that it is possible, to nominate competent efficient good women to that Authority and I look forward to the Minister's reply.

Ba mhaith liom ar dtús mo bhuíochas a chur in iúl do na Seanadóirí uilig a ghlac páirt san diospóireacht agus ba mhaith liom mo bhuíochas go háirithe a chur in iúl do na Seanadóirí as ucht an fáilte d'aon ghuth a thug siad don leasú seo don Bille um Athnuachan Uirbeach. Mar is eol do chuile dhuine, tá forbairt ag teastáil go géar sna láithreacha ach go háirithe san chathair seo. Tá foirgeanta ag meath gach uile lá agus tá droch-chaoi, dar ndóigh, ar thithíocht sa chathair freisin agus tá an di-fhostaíocht go forleathan. Is chun tabhairt faoi na fadhbanna sin atáimid ag rith an mBille seo agus táimid ag brú ar aghaidh leis an forbairt. Tá tacaíocht geallta againn anseo agus thar lear agus tá súil agam go mbainfaidh an chathair seo, muintir an chathair agus an daonra go forleathan tairbhe as an méid atá idir lámhe againn. I thank all those who contributed to what was quite a good debate. It wandered somewhat from the thrust of the legislation but I suppose that was to be expected. However, I must confine myself to the legislation pure and simple but you, a Leas-Chathaoirligh, might forgive me if on a few occasions I have to wander away from the exact text in order to give a reasonable explanation of some of the matters raised by Senators.

All Senators appreciate how vital it is that the Custom House Docks Development Authority are provided with the correct legal framework to enable the beneficial effects of the redevelopment project to be maximised. That is the business of the legislation. The immediate purpose of the Bill is to enable the Minister for the Environment, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, to extend the Custom House Docks area by order. So many people talked about many other things but that is what this legislation is about. It is the intention of the Minister to extend the docks area southwards into the middle of the River Liffey as soon as this House has passed the legislation and it has been signed by the President, and then it is intended at a later date to extend eastwards from the existing 27 acres if and when it is needed. It is not our intention to extend the remit of the Authority eastwards of the existing 27 acres until redevelopment work on the present site is well underway.

There are a number of different reasons why the Bill has been introduced and why it should be passed into law as soon as possible. Firstly, and most important, I am aware of the potential developers who have visited the site and they have expressed concern about the adverse impact that adjacent areas could have on the development of the site, particularly lands to the east which include under-utilised and rundown docklands. I am aware of this, having spoken to quite a sizeable number of potential developers who have unanimously expressed the view that they felt it necessary to have the extended area into the middle of the River Liffey and that there should be provision whereby at some future date the area could be extended eastwards of the existing 27 acres. It was a demand placed upon the Minister by the Authority and they, in turn, had the demand placed upon them by many of those who came to look and developers who expressed an interest before the planning scheme was in effect published at all.

This Government have always been committed to the re-development of all this parcel of land but it is now appropriate to reflect that commitment in concrete measures. The provision in the Bill will enable the Authority to allay the anxiety of the potential developers regarding the future of lands adjacent to the site. The Government's intention is clear in this regard. It is to secure the redevelopment of all the under-utilised docklands on a systematic and progressive basis commencing with the Custom House Docks site. With the interest now being shown in the existing 27 acre site and with that site extended into the middle of the Liffey, there is no doubt that the existing derelict docklands east of the site will also be included in developments in the not too distant future. That must surely be welcomed by everybody.

The second and more immediate reason the Bill is required now it to enable the extension of the area in a southerly direction to take in the Custom House Quay and out to the centre of the River Liffey. This was the original boundary proposed by Fianna Fáil in 1982, but it was not the one adopted by the previous Coalition Administration who seemed to lose sight of the potential benefits of the waterside nature of the site. One of the more important objectives of the redevelopment will be to maximise the river as an integral part of the fabric of the city and to exploit its value for the purposes of communication, recreation and amenity and as a unifying link in the appearance and in the total organisation of the city. I do not know why the previous Government did not see the value of that, but this Minister has seen it.

The extension of the site in a southerly direction, as proposed, is essential if the Authority and the developers are to realise this potential. Maybe I am unfair, but the previous Government did not have the advantage of meeting a number of the developers and those who are interested in making proposals in that regard. I have; the Authority have, and the demand is there from that.

The Minister would not, but for the financial advantages to visitors.

Rambling on.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Minister to continue without interruption.

Bearing in mind the two large inner docks which were referred to by Senator Doyle within the boundary of the site, it is obvious that the river and the docks will play a crucial role in the overall development. I think Senator Doyle recognises that and I support that view.

The question of the quayside has also been the subject of discussions between the Authority and potential developers and adds therefore, to the urgency of enacting the Bill. It is essential that we get all Stages with the support of the House as soon as possible so that I can make that order, so that developers in making their proposals, which will be before the Authority by 1 September, will be able to include that waterside that so many have recognised as an integral part of the whole project.

The third reason is the need to increase the numbers of the ordinary members of the Authority. It ought to be apparent at this stage that the redevelopment of the Custom House Docks will be an enormous undertaking by any standards. We are talking about a huge development incorporating hundreds of millions of pounds. It is big in every sense, even in the international sense, but for us it must be a unique development indeed. In terms of size, the cost, the complexity and the timescale that we have placed upon the authority in achieving this result, it will be quite unlike anything this city has ever experienced before.

The Authority are at present served in a part time capacity by four ordinary members. We should try to visualise that for just a moment — four part time members. In the nature of things they cannot devote all their time to the needs of the Authority. For that reason alone an increase in the membership is required to expand the expertise available to the Authority and especially to include persons who have experience in the financing and execution of large scale projects. All those appointed by the Minister for the Environment to serve on that Authority will have that experience and expertise. On top of that the importance which now attaches to the development of an international financial services centre on the site makes it imperative that the Authority should have appropriate expertise available to them. It is our intention to see to it that those who are appointed subsequent to the passing of this legislation will contribute to a very large degree in furthering the aims of that financial services centre.

While there is a clear need to increase the membership of the Authority, I believe also that the Authority will be most effective and efficient if their size is kept to the absolute minimum to discharge their obligations. The Bill, therefore, allows for the appointment of no more than three extraordinary members, the total membership of the Authority within the eight comprising a full time chairman and seven ordinary members.

I should like to make some reference to some of the points raised by Senators. Senator Doyle expressed considerable concern about the involvement or otherwise of the Sheriff Street flats which are adjacent to the 27 acre site. As Senator Doyle knows, these flats were built in the forties and the fifties. They cover about 13.5 acres adjacent to the 27 acres of the docks site. To put the record straight, because everybody got this wrong, there are 445 units there which are divided into 18 blocks. The population of that area at present is 1,208 and not the figure that has been bandied about in other places.

The figure of 2,000 was for the flats complex plus houses in the area.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Minister must be allowed to continue without interruption.

Not all units are occupied. About 365 are occupied and 77 are vacant. Most of the 77 are badly vandalised and are unfit for occupation. Statistics have not got much to do with this but it is as well to clear it up once and for all.

They have, and the 336 units which are occupied are not fit for humans either.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Minister must be allowed to reply without interruption.

Senator O'Toole was not listening. I said 365 units are occupied. I agree with Senator Doyle that as many of the local residents as possible should be engaged in the development process. If there are jobs available I would like those people to have the first opportunity of getting them. Senator Doyle was not very keen about the need to go into the middle of the river. I hope he will accept that it was because of the demand from the developers who propose submitting their development proposals by 1 September that the need arose in the first instance. That demand was put on me by the Authority and I responded by having it included in this legislation.

Senator Fitzsimons was concerned that there were no public submissions as to what should be included in the planning scheme. That is not quite accurate because public advertisements appeared in all national newspapers inviting organisations and individuals to make submissions and we received hosts of them. The final date for receipt of submissions was 8 May. The Senator spoke generally about the need for careful planning and we all agree with that.

Senator Harte expressed concern, as did many other Senators, for the people in Sheriff Street. He hopes they will get an opportunity to share in the benefits. I sincerely hope we all concur with that. Certainly if any group of people stand a chance of benefiting in the initial stages of the construction, it must be some of the 1,208 people who now live there. I was a little disappointed with some people who should know better who spoke in a slightly disparaging way about the inner city and the people who live there. I do not see them in that light. They are quite resourceful. I am not pessimistic about the chances and the opportunities that this development might provide for them. Some Senators, and indeed some Deputies as well, have a very poor opinion of their own people and I regret this. I might not know them as well as some Senators but I have a high opinion of them. They can get permanent work there and I am not just talking about the three or four years construction period. If this development is a success as we expect it will, and when we extend the area eastwards of the existing 27 acres, this development might go on for 15 years. It could be exactly what the people of the inner city, and particularly the people of Sheriff Street, have been waiting half a century for and I would like to think it is.

Senator Haughey spoke about the difficulties attached to the north inner city of Dublin. I am aware that in excess of 70 per cent of the population of that area are unemployed at present. I am pleased that everybody gave a general welcome to the legislation. It provided the fundamental opportunity for development which will give jobs to those people. I would like to think they will get first chance of those jobs. Senator Haughey said he would like to see private housing encouraged in the area. The planning scheme as submitted to me has quite a lot to say about the private housing that will be encouraged in the area. The experience in London, Boston, New York and such places is that private housing has done very well. We expect hundreds of residential units of accommodation will be included in the planning scheme and that is essential to make this work. If it is to work beyond 5 o'clock in the evening when offices close, it must have a living, thriving, indigenous population so that it will facilitate not just financial services but also other types of businesses, retail, commercial, cultural, amenity and so on, and that it will attract people other than for purely business reasons. That is how the scheme has been planned. It is the intention that the Authority will supervise the development and I am certainly very encouraged by the way they have gone about their business.

Senator Kennedy spent most of his time talking about Limerick. I could spend some time talking about the designated area in Limerick, and I am sure it would be to his benefit if I were to give some of the proposals that are intended for that area but I know that you, a Leas-Chathaoirligh, would rule me out of order. Then I would have to go through all the other designated areas around the country as well and therefore I will not do so——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Minister should not anticipate the rulings of the Chair.

——except to tell Senator Kennedy that he is quite right — things are going well in Limerick and I am pleased with that. He talked about the extension of the designated areas to other areas. That does not come under this legislation but it was dealt with at some length in this year's Finance Bill. Senators need be in no doubt that at a very early date the Minister for Finance, having discussed the matter with the Minister for the Environment, will nominate some areas to be included in the urban renewal package for designated areas because in many of the older towns dereliction is widespread.

Will the Minister give the same concessions to the areas in Dublin?

Apart from the docks site, there are other designated areas in Dublin which have not been going so well.

They have not got the same concessions as are given to other areas.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Minister must be allowed to continue.

They virtually have but it is not a matter for discussion under this legislation. They have a good package of incentives but they have not taken off the same as in the borough centres. Perhaps we need to look at that.

The 27 acre site was taken from us.

Caithfaidh mé a rá leis an Seanadóir de Buitléar go bhfuilim ar aon smaoineamh leis maidir leis an gá atá ann chun áilleacht na háite a coimead os ár gcomhair an tam ar fad. Caithfaimid freisin an Life a coimead sláintúil i gcónaí. Tá géarghá leis an rud sin. Aontaím leis na tuairaimí agus na smaointe a bhí aige maidir le cursaí mar sin agus tá sé ar intinn agam iad a chur os comhair an Údaráis i gceann tamaillín bhig.

Senator O'Toole was anxious that there would be a good balance between people and environment. If Senator O'Toole takes a good look at the planning scheme he will recognise that that was taken into account. I would be disappointed if the Senator thought otherwise because it was flexible enough to accommodate everything. It was making suggestions that accommodated the social, the cultural, the residential and the commercial, the overall package, so that this area could live again. If the Senators have a difficulty with it or if they feel that any aspect of the total package is missing, or has been diluted in any way, before the Minister has to give his full approval, I ask them please to make their position known and I will certainly give it careful consideration.

I will not go into the question raised by Senator O'Toole — he used a colloquialism, the laundering of international money. If he has a problem in that area, it would be best taken up when dealing with financial matters relating to this Bill. All this Bill does is to extend the area, to increase the numbers on the Authority, increase the powers of acquisition to the Authority, and extend the period of two years to five years by which grants could be made available to the Authority in order to enable them to complete their mandate under the 1986 legislation.

Senator Mulroy also spoke about the increase in membership and he welcomed it. I think he got the right feel for the need for the increase in the membership. He understood better than many others that it is necessary to supplement the number and to provide the experience and expertise that is necessary in order that they can now investigate and do a proper analysis of the proposals that will come in, in particular as they deal with financial services applications.

Senator McCormack questioned a number of things, particularly the purpose of the Bill and I think that may have been answered adequately by this stage. He is not here now, but he particularly wanted to know about extending the period of two years to five years. This is an enabling measure because the job to be undertaken by the Authority cannot now be concluded in the two years envisaged originally, particularly taking cognisance of the fact that the area is being extended eastwards. That is the reason for that.

Senator Manning took a different line. He was talking about the origins of the Urban Renewal Bill. While I would not wish to go into the matter any further than I am doing now, I wish he were here to hear this.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The fact that a Member is absent or present in the House should not be referred to.

Sorry. I hoped he might be here for this explanation because it refers to the Urban Development Areas Bill, 1982, a measure introduced by a previous Fianna Fáil Administration, to develop the urban centres, and in particular the Dublin inner city. It was from that that the Urban Renewal Bill, 1986, came into being but unfortunately it took some three and a half years to prepare. If the idea had been taken up by the Coalition when they came to office at the end of 1982 we might be a lot further down the road today. I always give credit where credit is due but there is no credit due to the previous Administration in this regard because they just sat on what was a good idea and then ran it through the House before the last election.

Fianna Fáil abolished a good idea when they abolished the Dublin Metropolitan Streets Commission.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Order, please.

Senator Manning adopted a very pessimistic attitude to the financial services centre. He seemed to be mixed up — he was for it and then he was against it. I take it that on balance his colleagues will impress upon him the need to be for it more often because it is going to be a great success. I would like to think he understands the reason for the extension because he challenged that section. He did not really think it was necessary to have the extension. I cannot impress upon anybody more than I have already done that this demand came about because the developers had indicated they required that the waterfront be part of the total package, and I readily concurred with them.

Senator Cregan was particularly concerned about all the money going to Dublin. That does not apply; it is not relevant to the legislation. It is the intention that all the money for the development on the docks site will come from private investment, and will not involve any money being put up by the State.

Senator Bulbulia was right and made a very good point so far as the cultural and amenity aspects of the centre are concerned. She was the only one who did this and I am pleased she did. She will be pleased to know that the planning scheme gives a special recognition to the need to have this included in the total package. It is the intention that whichever outstanding buildings need to be preserved will be preserved and that includes the vaults and in particular Stack A, which has a magnificent ceiling of moulded iron trusses. I am not going to go into details now, but it is well worth preserving. It is a magnificent example. It was the great hall used for celebrations following the Crimean War. There is much history there and it will be preserved by having that stack preserved.

There are other aspects of the site that are well worth preserving, and they are being incorporated in the overall scheme. From my discussions with developers and people who would be interested in developing the site, they see a great need to preserve what is worth preserving and to enhance what can be restructured or refurbished.

Looking at the planning scheme it is intended that there will be an exhibition centre and everything that goes with it. That will give a tremendous dimension to the amenities this city so badly needs to develop its full potential as a tourist and commercial centre. By and large, the scheme has not yet been approved by the Minister for the Environment but that is coming up in the very near future. We are on target for the 1 September deadline when interested developers will bring forward their proposals as to how they see the overall development of the site taking place and also the financial arrangements attached thereto.

I think it is a great opportunity for the inner city and it is a huge opportunity for the city of Dublin. It gives back to the inner city the life that has been sucked from it for so many decades. There are many opportunities in the inner city for the people who live there now. We spend too much time talking about limitations. Here is a glorious opportunity and it should be taken on board by everybody. Community leaders, and those who have an influence with the people living in the inner city should be impressing upon them that here is their opportunity not just to get involved in the construction end, but to prepare themselves, for the educationists to get involved and to recognise that in three, four or five years time there will be a need for expertise and for an educated population to work there. The opportunities are being offered and it is up to those with influence and those in charge to take them on board for their own people. I have no lack of confidence in the people who live there. I have no lack of confidence that this project is going to be a huge success and I am pleased it got a unanimous vote of confidence in this House.

Question put and agreed to.
Agreed to take remaining Stages today.