I propose to take Questions Nos. 556 to 558, inclusive, together.
As I have said a number of times recently in response to previous questions, Howth Fishery Harbour Centre is first and foremost a working fishery harbour. It is one of 6 Fishery Harbour Centres operated by the State, each of whose primary purpose is to provide facilities and services for the fishing industry and fisheries-related activities.
There has been significant capital investment in the Fishery Harbour Centres in recent years, underpinning both the fisheries side and, in parallel, their expanding use for leisure and marine tourism and other maritime enterprises. Howth in particular has a long tradition in both areas. All of the users of the Fishery Harbour need to be accommodated in a safe and secure facility, and the Department has a duty of care towards anyone entering it. Apart from any other considerations, the upkeep of the Harbour so that it meets with current health and safety standards has a cost and this cost must be paid for out of the income generated.
In the current economic climate, the State must be fully committed to maximising the return on its investment. Furthermore, my Department is required to ensure that the Fishery Harbour Centres are run on a financially sound basis.
With over 500 parking spaces within the boundaries of the Fishery Harbour Centre at present, it is clear that a significant source of revenue exists that could assist in balancing the books, and providing funding for enhancements that would not otherwise be possible.
I am reviewing all aspects of the matter at present. I can assure the Deputy that the views of the various harbour users, the potential earnings, the possible impact on the harbour businesses and recreational users, the impact on the local economy, the impact on overall traffic management within the Fishery Harbour, are all matters that I will take into account in coming to a decision.