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Priority Questions. - Harbours and Piers.

Wednesday, 6 February 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 547 No. 4

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 27. Mr. Dukes Information on Alan M. Dukes Zoom on Alan M. Dukes  asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources Information on Frank Fahey Zoom on Frank Fahey  if he has received a proposal for harbour development at Clogherhead, County Louth under the fisheries, harbours and facilities provision of the national development plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3721/02]

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey Zoom on Frank Fahey The harbour at Clogherhead is owned by Louth County Council and responsibility for its maintenance and development lies [1465] with the local authority. Funding of over €80,000 towards safety works and surfacing at the harbour was provided under the fisheries harbour programme, 2001. In 1998 Louth County Council commissioned consulting engineers to carry out a technical assessment of the development needs of Clogherhead Harbour. Their report, which evaluated a range of options, recommended extending the pier, the construction of a breakwater and dredging works. The cost of these capital works was estimated at the time to be in excess of €3.81 million.

My Department has consistently advised that any major capital investment proposed for Clogherhead should be underpinned by a comprehensive cost benefit analysis which should evaluate all relevant economic and socio-economic factors, trends in volume and value of landings, the extent to which displacement is a factor, fleet trends and regional and local considerations. My Department grant-aided a cost benefit analysis commissioned by the local authority last year. I am advised it has been completed and is being evaluated by the local authority prior to submission to my Department.

Consideration of any subsequent proposal for the development of the harbour by the local authority will be informed by the findings of the cost benefit analysis. However, under the national development plan funding for major fishery harbour development work is substantially oversubscribed at this point. Future capital development options in relation to Clogherhead will be assessed in the light of the cost benefit analysis and the overall funding envelope available.

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes Zoom on Alan M. Dukes I thank the Minister for his reply. It is a pity the record will not show the grin on his face while he read it out. He has not the slightest interest in the development of Clogherhead port. He is perfectly happy for proposals to be made to the county council and to read out a load of rubbish in the House about a cost benefit analysis, which is akin to teaching his grandmother to suck eggs. He has not the slightest intention of providing money for the proposed development because he has already allocated all the funds available under the fishery harbour development programme to other ports. Is that an accurate interpretation of his reply? If it is, I will immediately communicate it to the fishermen of Clogherhead.

Does the Minister not understand that one of the major problems in Clogherhead is that most boats fishing from the port have to be repaired and even refuelled elsewhere because the facilities are so inadequate? Is he aware that a large part of the income generated by the boats is being spent elsewhere and that if they could fish from the port, the level of local employment would rise? Will he, therefore, change his mind and adopt a less cavalier attitude to Clogherhead port?

[1466]Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey Zoom on Frank Fahey The Deputy's interpretation is wrong. He is well aware that one of the difficulties is that priorities must be set. Some port developments will, therefore, proceed before others. I am not in a position to proceed with the work at Clogherhead, which does not mean I do not have a keen interest in progress being made. For this reason, I provided €80,000 last year for improvements to the pier. I accept there is a need for an extension and have proceeded to allocate a sum of money for a cost benefit analysis. It is not possible to proceed with the project before completion of the analysis or proof that it is cost effective to spend more than €4 million on it.

I also accept that fishermen from Clogherhead are forced to use Howth Harbour because of the lack of facilities and that there is an urgent need for work on the pier to take place. However, even if the Deputy was in this chair, the same loaves and fishes exercise would apply.

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes Zoom on Alan M. Dukes There are no loaves and fishes in Clogherhead.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey Zoom on Frank Fahey I simply do not have the money required to proceed with the development in Clogherhead, much as I would like to.

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes Zoom on Alan M. Dukes How much of the funding available under the National Development Plan, 2000-2006, for the fishery harbour development programme has been committed? What expenditure has been allocated for the years 2002 to 2006? Is there no room in the programme for Clogherhead?

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey Zoom on Frank Fahey I do not have the exact figures, but we are committed to developments in Killybegs, Rossaveal, Castletownbere and Dunmore East as well as about ten other smaller projects. I am not certain if that covers all the money allocated under the NDP, but I will be happy to provide the Deputy with the information.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison Time is up. We must move on to the next question.

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes Zoom on Alan M. Dukes I invite the Minister to take a look at the project to allow him to form an impression of whether there might be room for a development to take place in Clogherhead between now and 2006. He may find he does not have to close the door as tightly as he has.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey Zoom on Frank Fahey It is important to point out that there is no point building hopes and misleading people.

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes Zoom on Alan M. Dukes In other words, the Minister is saying “No.”

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey Zoom on Frank Fahey That is not the case.

Mr. Dukes: Information on Alan M. Dukes Zoom on Alan M. Dukes Is he even saying “Maybe?”

[1467]

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey Zoom on Frank Fahey It is not my style to carry people along and mislead them, which has been the case for long enough with regard to projects of this nature.

Mr. Bell: Information on Michael Bell Zoom on Michael Bell We have been misled for 20 years.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey Zoom on Frank Fahey I have been careful not to mislead anybody—

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Séamus Pattison Zoom on Séamus Pattison I ask the Minister to deal with Question No. 28.

Mr. Fahey: Information on Frank Fahey Zoom on Frank Fahey —and I will not allow Deputy Dukes to lead me in that direction now.


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