Councillors voice concern over costs and delays in converting former Dún Laoghaire ferry terminal

Leaseholder faces a doubling of costs to almost €8m, councillors told

The cost of converting Dún Laoghaire Harbour’s former ferry terminal to an enterprise hub for business has “almost doubled” from €4 million to nearly €8 million, Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Councillors have been told.

The council’s monthly meeting on Monday night heard the cost inflation had led to delays on the part of a leaseholder, Quarterdeck Ltd, but the company was still moving ahead with the project and had committed €6 million.

Last July the council leased the former ferry terminal to Quarterdeck, a company established by Hilary Haydon, an accountant and former president of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Chamber of Commerce. Councillors were told the project would pay rent to the council of €400,000 per year, starting in year two, would also pay rates and would be of benefit to the town and wider Dún Laoghaire Rathdown area.

However, at their monthly meeting councillors were told Quarterdeck Ltd had missed a three month deadline to get the enterprise hub up and running. Officials said Quarterdeck had anticipated costs of about €4 million but after the lease became effective in July 2022 the costs had risen to “almost €8 million”.


Officials said, however, that the other conditions of the lease had been fulfilled. These included signage for the building being placed at ground floor and first floor level announcing the arrival of Quarterdeck and its co-working offices in 2023.

Works on the front of the building and car park are now expected to commence later in February, officials said and insurance costing €200,000 had been provided.

Officials also said an implementation plan is being finalised with the first tenants expecting to move into the Ferry Terminal in March or April 2023.

The council officials said “it is acknowledged that progress on the project has been slower than anticipated since the lease became effective but as the level of construction price inflation experienced during 2022 following the war in Ukraine was unprecedented and unforeseeable”.

“It would have been unreasonable not to have afforded Quarterdeck sufficient time to explore options”, officials said, adding that “Quarterdeck remained committed to the project”.

The council noted the former terminal has been vacant since 2016, generating no income and attempts to find a tenant had not been not easy. Officials said one option was to terminate the lease but as Quarterdeck had confirmed that it intends to commence the works immediately, “it is considered that this would result not only in a loss of income to the Council but would not be in the best interest of the economy of the town or county”.

Cllr Dave Quinn said many questions he had asked about the deal between the council and the leaseholder remained to be answered to his satisfaction.

Cllr Melisa Halpin said she too had concerns, particularly about the time councillors had been given to review the project and she proposed the council secure a legal report.

She said the council had alternative plans for a heritage centre and a national aquatic centre in the harbour but members had been repeatedly told there was no alternative to the current deal.

A number of other councillors said they believed the operator should be given more time. Cllr Denis O’Callaghan said the members knew what they were getting into when they approved the lease and Cllr Lorraine Hall said she was “so glad” that tenants would be moving into the building in April.

Cllrs Quinn and Halpin proposed a motion that the council seek a legal report on the operation of the lease and whether the disposal of the property by lease was “properly constituted” at the time. The proposal was defeated on a vote.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist