Cost-benefit analysis of Dún Laoghaire cruise berth ‘not required’
Gratuitous comments alleged in questioning suggesting ‘non-viability’ of cruise facility
Annette Hughes of DKM Economic Consultants, on behalf of Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company, objected to questioning from Dr Pat McCloughan, who represented Dún Laoghaire Harbour combined sailing and yacht clubs. Photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Heated exchanges arose on Wednesday at the planning inquiry into Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company’s proposed cruise ship berth.
The harbour company is seeking planning permission for a 400m berth to accommodate some of the world’s largest cruise ships, with ancillary facilities, including the dredging of an approach channel inside and outside the harbour walls.
Answering questions on the €18 million investment associated with the project, Annette Hughes of DKM Economic Consultants, on behalf of the harbour company, said a cost-benefit analysis of the project had not been carried out as one “was not required”.
She said the fact DKM had carried out a cost-benefit assessment on a redevelopment project at Galway docks was “entirely irrelevant”, and objected to a line of questioning on the matter from Dr Pat McCloughan, who represented Dún Laoghaire Harbour combined sailing and yacht clubs.
She told the inquiry Dr McCloughan had made “gratuitous comments” in his questioning suggesting “non-viability” of the Dún Laoghaire cruise facility.
Dr McCloughan had no basis for this view, and his comments contained a “suggestion” that “DKM is compromised” by being involved in the Dún Laoghaire project, she said.
Ms Hughes invited Dr McCloughan to withdraw the suggestion in relation to DKM being associated with a non-viable project.
However, Dr McCloughan said the economics of the cruise ship facility were central to the sustainability of the project, and he could not understand how DKM was looking at only positive impacts, not negative ones.
He questioned the consultancy’s financial conclusions, saying a cost-benefit analysis should have been done, as it would have had to show both positive and negative financial aspects of the project.
Dr McCloughan said the assertion by DKM that there could be a joint approach to marketing by Dublin Port and Dún Laoghaire could be contrary to EU competition regulations. He said: “If I was Dublin Port, I would be out to take you out.”
Ann Mulcrone of planning consultants Reid Associates, for the combined clubs, said “socioeconomic costs” associated with the cruise facility could outweigh the benefits in economic terms.
Ms Hughes said there were situations where it made sense for Dublin and Dún Laoghaire to jointly market Ireland as a cruise centre.
There would be days when Dublin may be unable to accommodate a fourth ship, and she asked was it a good idea that the country simply turn it away.
She said DKM had determined there was “an opportunity” for Dún Laoghaire to engage in the market for “cruise calls” and while nothing was guaranteed, “everybody who is in business is taking a risk”.
“It is about adding value to the Irish economy,” she said.