Time for a new national flagship

 

Sir, – It is important for Irish maritime interests to take stock as the tall ships from around the world invade Liffeyside this weekend – for what promises to be a great festival of the sea.

It is also critical, as islanders, to realise that we are becoming just spectators, withdrawing from the ocean, instead of educating our youth to embrace it and its wealth.

Tall ships are about sail training and youth development. That is the core of what the organisers, Sail Training International, and the tall ship vessels visiting Dublin are about. In addition to promotion and the clear business payback, it just so happens that these elegant ladies of the ocean are an excellent platform for education and character development for young people.

Tragically this island of Ireland has no national flagship. Instead those few lucky young people must get berths (and congratulations to Sail Training Ireland for organising these) where possible on other national vessels.

If a school burned down on land and the insurance company paid out, would it be built again? Certainly it would. Ireland lost Asgard II, a source of national pride. Instead of leaving the funds for a replacement, they were grabbed by the Exchequer. This is a national disgrace.

We’ve all had cutbacks – but 100 per cent is wrong! There is now an opportunity, within the visionary new Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland, to take this opportunity and build a new North-South national flagship. A public-private investment here will pay dividends. The tourism, education, marine business, youth and Diaspora benefits are clear. Let’s do it for the pride of Ireland, our youth and our maritime DNA. – Yours, etc,

ENDA O’COINEEN,

Chairman,

Let’s Do It Global/Ocean Youth

Trust Ireland,

Haigh Terrace,

Dún Laoghaire,

Co Dublin.