Canoeing Ireland ‘delighted’ Dublin getting €23m rafting course

Councillor points to fire officer’s claim project will benefit fire-brigade training

November 27th, 2019: Dublin city councillors will next month be asked to give the green light to a new white-water rafting facility on George’s Dock in the IFSC. Video: Smart Docklands/Dublin City Council/Dublin Docklands

 

Canoeing Ireland has said it was “delighted” plans for an international standard white-water rapids rafting circuit and polo pool at George’s Dock were approved by Dublin city councillors on Monday night.

Moira Aston, chief executive of the canoeing body, described the vote as “a big step forward”. The organisation hoped to host international competitions there once the facility was built.

The council said the facility, which will cost €23 million, will be used for elite slalom squad training, as well as national and international white-water kayaking events. It will also be used for canoe polo and water polo matches, and for tourist and recreational rafting.

However, it will also be used by the fire brigade and other emergency services and local authority staff for rescue training to deal with incidents in fast-moving waters, including floods.

“We have no international courses for our slalom athletes in Ireland at the moment – we have very limited facilities for athletes to train. They travel abroad to access facilities so this will give them the opportunity to train from home,” Ms Aston said.

“We would hope that once this course is built we can start hosting international competitions in slalom in Dublin – which is amazing, to have that right in the centre of the city. In terms of the cost, I think that any investment in sport infrastructure has been seen to pay dividends.

“We would be very excited about the prospects for developing young athletes in that area and giving kids an opportunity to grow a love for the water.”

Converting

The plans involve converting the early 19th-century dock into a mechanically-propelled rafting facility with a water polo pitch and an emergency service training centre. The 100m by 70m basin is located between the IFSC and the CHQ building next to the river Liffey.

Thirty-seven councillors voted in favour of the plans put forward at its monthly meeting on Monday evening, 19 voted against and three abstained.

Social Democrats councillor Gary Gannon, who voted in favour, said the facility “might be an opportunity that we didn’t know existed before”.

“We’re always told that we must be led by experts and their evidence, so when a senior member of Dublin Fire Brigade is telling you that they take more people from the water than they do from burning homes, and this facility will help them with their training, and that fire and rescue services from around the country will use this, I think it’s absolutely essential that we listen to them,” he said.

Source of income

Assistant chief fire officer Greg O’Dwyer had addressed councillors on Monday.

Sinn Féin councillor Daithí Doolan, who also supports the project, said the facility would prove to be a source of income for the city.

“This funding provided for the white-water rafting is not from the housing budget. It doesn’t impact on the housing budget or the homeless services budget, that money comes from central Government.”

Independent councillor Mannix Flynn described the plans as “superficial and artificial”.