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Swimming Pool Projects

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 3 July 2012

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Questions (4)

Richard Boyd Barrett


88Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport if he will provide funding to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, in the interests of promoting tourism, to ensure that the full plan to restore the baths in Dun Laoghaire is able to progress immediately; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32103/12]

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Oral answers (9 contributions) (Question to Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport)

The question relates to the restoration of the Dún Laoghaire baths. Fáilte Ireland has responsibility for the operation of the tourism capital investment programme. The development of the project referred to by the Deputy is primarily the responsibility of the relevant local authority, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. I am informed by Fáilte Ireland that no application has been received by it in respect of the project. If a local authority, or any other body, identifies a tourism project with the potential to increase significantly visitor numbers and which it believes would be eligible for tourism capital funding, it should engage directly with Fáilte Ireland. However, the level of grant allocations and approvals under the programme is such that the existing capital allocations for 2012 and 2013 for tourism product development are fully committed.

In 2004, in the biggest demonstration since 1921, 5,000 people marched in Dún Laoghaire to demand that the council abandon proposals to build a ten-storey private apartment block on the site of Dún Laoghaire baths and force a commitment from it to restore the public swimming baths. The demonstrators later forced it to commit to a plan in this regard. After a long delay and endless foot-dragging by the council, last night the Minister's Labour Party and Fine Gael colleagues voted to give €1.5 million to the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company to place a barge off the east pier in Dún Laoghaire. The county manager, in supporting the proposal for a barge off the east pier, stated it would allow the council to "exit the baths thing". Does the Minister believe it is acceptable for his Labour Party and Fine Gael colleagues and the county manager to show such contempt for the wishes of the public, so strongly expressed over ten years, that they would abandon the plan to have a swimming pool back on the site of Dún Laoghaire baths? Would it not be in the interests of the State's tourism infrastructure and the Government's stated commitment to develop tourism to give the people of Dún Laoghaire what they want, namely, restored Victorian swimming baths on Dún Laoghaire seafront? Acceding to the people's demands would boost tourism in Dún Laoghaire and the wider Dublin area. I ask the Minister to intervene in this regard by getting the council to restate its commitment to provide the swimming baths and by having the Department become directly involved in providing funding therefor.

I am flattered a little by the Deputy's question. I am the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and have a considerable number of responsibilities across a number of areas, including aviation and the ports, in respect of which I work with the Ministers of State Deputies Alan Kelly and Michael Ring. I am a little surprised that the priority question from the Technical Group is essentially about a local issue affecting Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, in which I will not intervene because it is a matter for local government. It is a matter for the elected representatives on the council to make decisions without having regard to me. If they want to talk to us about their plans or capital funding, we will be happy to do so. However, they have not done so as yet. I am advised that they have allocated €2.5 million from the capital budget to carry out works on the pavilion and baths site and provide a jetty and other amenities. This is entirely a matter for the council to decide. I do not have a role.

Dún Laoghaire seafront is a national tourism asset of great significance. Dublin is the biggest tourism hub in the country. To develop the seafront in Dún Laoghaire and provide amenities there is of national significance. There was widespread support across the city of Dublin for the campaign against the privatisation of the seafront and to demand the restoration of Dún Laoghaire baths. There was support from all over the country because people understood restoring the public swimming amenity and the Victorian heritage of the seafront would be a great boost for tourism in Dublin and that the provision of amenities would be of citywide and national significance. It is, therefore, the Minister's business. His Fine Gael and Labour Party colleagues on Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council are playing politics with the issue to the detriment of the interest of the residents and the Government's stated objective to develop tourism infrastructure and create employment therefrom.

I am not sure what question the Deputy is asking, but I wish to make two comments. Dún Laoghaire Harbour is a wonderful amenity for the State. I often visit and will be attending the youth sailing championships there in the near future. I do not know whether renovating the Victorian baths would result in international tourists flocking to Dún Laoghaire. That would have to be assessed, but I trust the elected representatives in Dún Laoghaire to make these decisions for their area.

They promised the people a swimming pool, but they have not delivered.

It is a matter for the council chamber.

More broken promises.

Perhaps the Deputy might return to it in due course.