Controversial plans for a €25 million whitewater rafting attraction in Dublin’s docklands have been delivered a major setback after the Government refused a request to fund the project.
Dublin City Council sought €19 million towards the cost of the George’s Dock scheme under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF), a €2 billion pot set aside for the rejuvenation of Irish cities and large towns.
However, Minister for Local Government Darragh O’Brien, whose department oversees the fund, has turned down the request.
“Any plans for the further advancement of this or any other proposed development for George’s Dock is a matter for Dublin City Council,” he said in response to a parliamentary question from Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond.
The council confirmed the latest estimated cost for the attraction, which it insists would be a major tourist draw, has reached €25.4 million. When first proposed, the council estimated it would cost €12 million.
Asked for comment on the Government’s refusal to back the proposal under the URDF, a council spokeswoman said: “Dublin City Council has nothing further to add.”
The council in January sought expressions of interest from builders for the contract to develop the attraction, noting in a preliminary tender that the plan was “subject to funding”. The tender process was initiated “to get a more realistic cost estimate” and the council said a final decision would be made once costs and funding options had been assessed.
“No additional council funding can be allocated to the project and no additional borrowing can be undertaken without the approval of the elected members,” the council said.
Mr Richmond said he would be “sceptical enough about the project, compared to other things that could be happening” in the city. He suggested that building an outdoor swimming pool or lido could be a “more appropriate and more cost-effective” use for the site.
The Dublin Rathdown TD said providing central Government funding for the proposal would have been “quite controversial” and suggested that the Minister’s refusal to fund it may “cast a bit of a shadow over the project”.
“If Dublin City Council can make the case that this is a national sporting necessity, then more power to them. It is back to the council and its councillors now to support it,” he said.