Mixed emotions in Dun Laoghaire at demise of ferry service
Local representatives call for Government action after Stena announcement
Locals reflected on the “the end of an era” on Wednesday as Stena Line’s announcement meant no ferry service would run from Dun Laoghaire this year after almost 200 years.
Michael Haugh, from the National Maritime Museum of Ireland in Dun Laoghaire, said the first ferry was a mail package ship went to from the harbour to Parkgate in England in 1826.
“On a gorgeous day like today, watching the HSS Stena Explorer leaving through the route was quite a dramatic sight. The scale of the ship was much bigger than the others,” he said.“It is the end of an era.
Mr Haugh said the harbour was first built in 1815 as an “asylum” harbour to protect ships.
The Stena decision generated particular concern among the town’s political representatives, with Fine Gael TD Mary Mitchell O’Connor and People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett both urging action on the issue.
“I, like thousands of others in this country, have memories of aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, and neighbours emigrating to England and from [THE HARBOUR]to the US,” said Ms Mitchell O’Connor. She called for the establishment of a task force on the Stena exit and said it was now “imperative” for the Government to legislate for the harbour to be taken under the administrative remit of local government.
Mr Boyd Barrett agreed that the Stena move was a “massive blow” for the town and said the State had failed in protecting its maritime assets.
“Ireland is surrounded by the sea. We are a maritime nation. Dún Laoghaire harbour is a jewel in the crown of a network of harbours and ports around this country with endless potential.
“At a local level and national level, we have failed to protect and develop that maritime resource and potential. The [Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company] board must now be removed and this vital asset and wonderful amenity must be brought under full public control before it’s too late.”
Don McManus, chairman of the Business Improvement District (Bid) group in Dun Laoghaire was slightly more sanguine, saying the loss of Stena Line would make very little difference to traders in the borough.
“It’s not a massive blow. All the cars coming off the ferry mainly just drove out of the town without stopping,” he said.
Mr McManus said cruise ship passengers and crew spent more time in the town and brought more money in.
He was speaking on behalf of Bid but also sits on the board of Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company.