DEVELOPMENT IN DUN LAOGHAIRE
Madam, - I am writing in response to John de Courcy Ireland's letter of December 20th about the rezoning of the Carlisle Pier.
As a former pupil of Newpark Comprehensive, where John de Courcy Ireland spent a lot of time, I have great personal respect for him and his opinions but I regret that his letter misrepresents the situation.
He says that councillors have handed over the Carlisle Pier to dreaded "developers". Surely he is aware that the Habour Board owns this site and it will not be handing the site over to anyone. As the Harbour Board is answerable to the Minister, it is under an obligation to maximise the potential of the site for the benefit of the public on a basis that is sustainable without cost to the public purse.
The Carlisle Pier is currently derelict. I want to see public walkways on the pier, and the National Maritime museum given a permanent home there. I want to see a county art gallery there. I want to see a world class hotel there. I make no apology for wanting to see this happen for the benefit of the people of the county I represent.
I wholeheartedly agree with his concern that the millions who emigrated from this pier be commemorated in some way. I am personally well acquainted with emigration. Both my parents emigrated from a desolate Ireland in the 1960s to seek work. I myself joined 60 per cent of my class from university in leaving a depressed Ireland in the 1980s to seek work in England. Instead of celebrating the wretchedness of the past, let's make the rejuvenation of the Carlisle Pier a celebration of the fact that we now live in an optimistic, confident Ireland where our children no longer face emigration as the only option for employment.
Of course, the councillors are aware of the sensitivities and concerns that surround the site. There are a number of safeguards in place as part of the variation which was passed. This sets out clearly the type of uses that must be included on this site and states that any landmark building proposed for the site must incorporate uses that will bring significant cultural, social, recreational and economic benefits to the nation and to Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown. It must provide for significant public accessibility.
Dr de Courcy Ireland ends his letter with the accusation that councillors may have been insidiously influenced by developers in voting for this rezoning. This is the lowest dig of all in view of the facts:
1. 35 per cent of the councillors are new as of the 1999 Local Elections and are in their twenties and thirties.
2. It was these new councillors who, recognising the vision of what was possible from a public facility point of view, voted in favour of the variation. The pre-1999 councillors predominantly voted against it.
3. The new councillors are committed to the positive development of the facilities of the pier for the benefit of all citizens of the county.
4. I am on the record as stating that I am against receiving gifts from developers. I have placed motions in the council chambers in the past asking that the council establish a register of gifts received to demonstrate to the public the complete transparency which exists in local government.
To say the variation was inspired by murky developer pressure is completely wide of the mark. Without a bit of courage in looking at the potential development of an area the world would have no Eiffel Tower, no Sydney Opera House. Even the builders of the pyramids of Egypt fit Dr de Courcy Ireland's classification of dubious "developers".
I voted in favour of the variation as a matter of principle. I have a personal obligation to the progressive people in the county who wish to see Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County move ahead in a positive way and provide facilities that will enrich the lives of those using the harbour. - Yours, etc.,
Cllr EOIN COSTELLO,