PDs accused of manipulation

 

The Irish Business and Employers' Confederation (Ibec) has accused the Progressive Democrats of "political manipulation" in relation to the party's proposed relocation of Dublin Port.

The PD proposal, which was unveiled earlier this month, would involve transferring the capital's port on a phased basis to a 150-acre site at Bremore, north of Balbriggan, which has been earmarked for expansion by Drogheda Port Company.

This would "free up" over 600 acres of land at Dublin Port for redevelopment with a "spectacular Manhattan-style approach to Dublin by sea", the party's transport spokesman, Senator Tom Morrissey, has said.

However, Ibec says that at no stage had Drogheda Port Company attempted to "oversell" its plan for Bremore as an alternative to Dublin, or as a potential partnership venture.

"This key aspect is entirely a creature of the PDs' flawed vision," Reg McCabe, Ibec's transport director, said in a statement. "It is important that Drogheda Port resists this unseemly political manipulation of its proposal."

Ibec had no objection in principle to the idea of a competing port at Bremore, as envisaged by Drogheda Port Company, Mr McCabe said. The port company had proposed a medium-scale facility, with a direct link to the M1, and the impetus for this had come from Drogheda's existing customers who could not be accommodated in the long term at Tom Roe's point, Mr McCabe added.

Construction is expected to begin in about two years, subject to Government and planning approval. The Bremore site falls between the two administrative areas of Fingal and Meath county councils.

Mr McCabe said that investment in new capacity at Dublin Port was "imperative in the short term", given the Government's port traffic projections. This should involve providing deep-water berths and container handling on the eastward extension, as proposed by the port company, he said.

The PD senator, who plans to contest a Dáil seat in Dublin North in the next general election, had "failed to explain why" there was no political support for Dublin Port's plan, apart from "vague assertions about the impact of the development on Bull Island and Clontarf", Mr McCabe said.

"Ibec can see no logical basis for the failure of the political system to deliver a project which is so vital to securing the future of our main trading gateway, he emphasised.

In a separate development, Dublin Regional Authority has initiated a debate about establishing a new Dublin Bay authority. Such a body would oversee sustainable management of "Dublin's foremost resource".