White-water rafting plan a ‘white elephant’, says Dublin Lord Mayor

City council plans €12m water sports facility for George’s Dock

Dublin's Lord Mayor, Nial Ring, has poured cold water on plans for a €12 million international standard white-water rapids rafting circuit and polo pool in George's Dock.

Dublin City Council wants to convert the early-19th-century dock into a mechanically-propelled rafting facility with a water polo pitch and an emergency service training centre.

The council hopes the 100m by 70m basin between the IFSC and the CHQ building next to the river Liffey will be used for "elite kayak slalom squad training"; for national and international white-water kayaking events; by the fire brigade for "swift water rescue training; for water polo matches; as well as for tourist and recreational rafting.

However, Mr Ring said the facility, for which the council management hopes to lodge a planning application next month, could become a “white elephant” in the city’s docklands.



“What’s the genesis of this? Whose baby is this? Who has decided the north inner city needs white-water rafting?... I can’t honestly support it at this stage, I think it could be a white elephant.”

Green Party councillor Ciarán Cuffe said he was “flabbergasted” the project had advanced so far before he had received a presentation on it.

“This project seems to have come out of thin air this is the first formal presentation I’ve seen and I would be somewhat cautious. I am long enough in the tooth to see grandiose proposals come and go for George’s Dock.”

Mr Cuffe referenced financier Dermot Desmond’s late 1990s proposal for a €170 million glazed “ecosphere” in the dock.

"We had the crystal proposal from Dermot Desmond some 20 years ago. These proposals tend to come towards the end of an economic period when there's money around."

Local children

Refurbishing the dock as an open are sea swimming pool for local children would be “a much more commendable project” , Mr Cuffe said.

Derek Kelly of the council's docklands office said the council had considered moving the Jeanie Johnston replica Famine ship into the dock, but at €3 million the cost was considered "prohibitive", so chief executive Owen Keegan and senior council management decided the white-water project would be the best use of the dock.

The council also plans to repurpose and refurbish the former Dublin Dockland Development Authority (DDDA) building on Custom House Quay as part of the project.

‘A kip’

Mr Cuffe said this building was “a kip” and should be demolished.

“I would happily light the torch paper to a bomb under the Dublin docklands offices. They are the worst eyesore we have on the campshires of the river Liffey,” he said. “The docklands building is kip of a prefabricated late 1980s building that should be demolished not refurbished.”

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times