Dún Laoghaire’s controversial cruise ship plan scrapped

Group led by Richard Boyd Barrett argued the development would damage Dublin Bay

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has abandoned plans to construct a controversial berth for cruise ships in the south Dublin suburb.

The €30 million plan had been proposed in 2015 by Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company, which no longer operates the harbour. It was planned that the berth, which would allow for ships up to 250m in length to dock, would attract about 50 cruise ships during high season.

However, in a letter sent to observers of the planning process, An Bord Pleanála confirmed that the local authority had withdrawn the application, which was given approval in 2018.

Cllr Barry Ward, who initially proposed that the project be abandoned at a council meeting last month, said the council had “made a call that there’s no business case for it, and we don’t want to spend any more money on it”.


When it was first announced, a group supporting the project said it would bring 800,000 cruise passengers to Dublin annually, with at least half of them arriving via Dún Laoghaire.

However, it was challenged by Save Our Seafront, a group chaired by People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett. The group argued the development would damage Dublin Bay and affect the amenity of the harbour for local residents. The group brought a judicial review of An Bord Pleanála’s decision to approve permission for the project.

Application withdrawn

The eight-year planning permission covered the construction of a cruise berth facility comprising a new quay, berth and access causeway and the dredging of a navigation channel.The application was withdrawn on May 14th.

The council assumed responsibility for the project, along with several other multimillion euro schemes, when it took control of the harbour last year. The move left many councillors unhappy as it meant they faced the ongoing multimillion euro cost of carrying out repairs to the harbour, as well as assuming the liabilities of the company.

As well as the cruise ship terminal, a €51 million diaspora centre was planned, alongside an urban beach plan, to include a swimming pool containing heated seawater, at a cost of €5 million. A progress report given to councillors in March noted that there was no funding mechanism in place to advance any of these projects, and in the case of the urban beach, “there is no funding mechanism to progress this project in place”.

In a statement, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council confirmed “that the cruise berth planning application, originally made by the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, was withdrawn by the Council on 14 May 2019. A report to Council in May 2019 advised of the significant commercial, technical and environmental risk associated with this project.”

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones

Jack Horgan-Jones is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times