THE FUTURE of Dún Laoghaire harbour lies in its role as a marine tourism and leisure destination and not as a commercial port, according to six sailing and yacht clubs which use the harbour.
In a submission on a new master plan for the harbour drawn up in the light of a possible change of the year-round car ferry service to a seasonal service, the clubs said radical rethinking of the interaction between the town and harbour was now required.
The clubs include the Dublin Bay Sailing Club, Dún Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club, National Yacht Club, Royal Alfred Yacht Club, Royal Irish Yacht Club and the Royal St George Yacht Club.
Under the name Dún Laoghaire Combined Clubs, the six, some of which have operated in the harbour since the 1830s, said they were attempting to set aside the specific interests of any individual club in favour of a larger and longer-term vision for the harbour.
The submission said it viewed the harbour as a “key part of the city of Dublin and Dún Laoghaire’s water sports infrastructure”.
It also said the town and harbour needed to rethink public access to both the shore and water side of the harbour.
This included “the way in which the harbour has developed, [which] to date has served indirectly to restrict both shore and waterside access to existing and potential future users and particularly the public”.
The combined clubs said they believed the harbour was a world-class leisure resource and “properly developed with a marine tourism and leisure focus it can generate new and sustainable sources of income”.
They said, however, there were no quick fixes to replace revenue that would be lost if ferry services were reduced or withdrawn.
The group supports development of the Carlisle Pier as the focus of marine tourism and leisure activities and proposed a “diaspora project” housed in a low but iconic building.
The clubs made their submission in response to Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company’s draft master plan, which envisaged alternative uses for the harbour, as well as alternative sources of funding, if the ferry service is reduced or withdrawn.
These alternatives include marine, leisure and office uses, light industry and the use of part of the harbour to generate renewable energy.
The six clubs operating under the combined clubs banner include the four “waterfront” clubs which have premises in the harbour. These are the National, Royal Irish, Royal St George and Motor Yacht Club.
In all they claim to have about 5,000 members. These in turn own about 700 keelboats (boats moored in the water, typically) and about 1,000 dinghies, most of which are sailed by the junior and youth members of the clubs on the waterfront.