A campaign was be launched today with Richard Boyd Barrett, fisherman Pat O’Donnell of Rossport and the film ‘The Pipe’, SOS campaigners & others in Dun Laoghaire harbour at viewing point overlooking carlisle pier, on Queen road. At a packed Save Our Seafront (SOS) meeting in Dun Laoghaire last night people decided to to fight the threatened privatisation of Dun Laoghaire harbour aswell as continuing the campaign for the restoration of the Baths. As part of negotiating an emergency deal with the IMF last December Brian Cowen agreed to review our natural energy sector “with a view to setting appropriate targets for the possible privatization of state-owned assets.” (Reuters, Dec 1). This is laid out in a memorandum of understanding as part of the deal. Companies such as Stena have made their interest in buying the harbour clear to both the Harbour Company and the Government. Compulsory redundancies were recently imposed on five harbour policemen and the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company has demanded swinging pay cuts and changes in working conditions for other harbour staff in what appears to be a major pre-privatisation rationalisation drive. The cuts were justifed by the Harbour Company on the grounds that the Company claims it is facing major financial difficulties. Cllr Richard Boyd Barrett, Chairperson of the Campaign, said “Key public assets such as the Habour must remain in public ownership and should be used for the benefit of all. Any development should respect the character of the harbour and create meaningful employment. The fact that Stena have indicated an interest in buying the port and that at the same time has removed the HSS producing a financial crisis for the harbour company is a very worrying sign that moves are afoot to privatise the harbour. This taken alongside the IMF deal recommending the possible sale of state assets gives very strong reason for concern. We need to integrate the demands of traditional harbour users into the agenda, defend the rights of fishermen and protect jobs such as the harbour police. There have been five compulsory redundancies recvently imposed on the harbour police as well as demands for swinging paycuts for the remaining workers while the CEO of the Harbour board who earns €230, 000 and other executives recieve in the region of €130,000 each. the loss of a number of harbour policemen means there is no longer adequate policing to maintain public safety in the harbour. The harbour comapny has also indicated the possibility of residential development in the harbour. This is completely unacceptable as it would effectively make parts of the harbour exclusive to those who could afford the premium prices such a location would command. It also emerged at the meeting that Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council have applied for planning permission for a permanent barge to be located just off the East Pier. This barge, which has already been viewed by the council in Holland, will include a bar, swimming pool and sauna. Residents are conerned that if this barge has a pool, the plan for an adult pool in at the Dun Laoghaire Baths might be abandoned. Other issues which emerged were plans for a gaming complex to be built on the harbour concourse, like the one in Stillorgan and a car park on the seafront. While parking is a major issue in Dun Laoghaiire an underground solution rather than in an existing public amenity was proposed. Concern was also raised over the moving of the entrance to the People’s Park and all in attendance were unanimously against this proposal. The meeting decided to make the protection of the harbour as an election issue and will be asking for a pledge from all candidates in the constituency asking for the retention of the harbour as a public amentity. For info/comment Richard Boyd Barrett 086 814520 or Sara O’Rourke 0872886646
Tag Archive: privatisation
In a statement, Cllr Richard Boyd Barrett has condemned the compulsory lay-off of five harbour employees, a 40% pay cut on remaining harbour workers and what he says is now a very serious threat of harbour privatisation – a threat confirmed by the Harbour Company CEO in a recent meeting with Cllr Boyd Barrett on the future of the harbour.
Cllr Boyd Barrett also strongly criticised fellow Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Co Councillors for their failure to challenge the Harbour Co over the redundancies. Cllr Boyd Barrett had put forward an emergency motion to discuss the redundancies at the January Council meeting (Jan 10) but councillors from Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fail refused to support it. A number of councillors on the board of the Harbour Company are also believed to gone along with the exclusion of the boards’ staff representative from a board meeting where the redundancies were being discussed.
According to Cllr Boyd Barrett, Stena is, in fact, deliberately worsening the harbour Company’s financial position and pushing it towards privatisation through its plan to remove the HSS from Dun Laoghaire, substantially reducing revenue to the Harbour Company.
Cllr Boyd Barrett said he welcomed suggestions other from the Harbour Company that the Carlisle Pier would now be developed as a public amenity, following a planned public consultation over the coming weeks, but said such plans would mean little if harbour jobs were slashed and the harbour company was privatised.
Cllr Boyd Barrett said that in his capacity as chairperson of the Save Our Seafront (SOS) group he would be holding a public meeting over the coming weeks.
Cllr Boyd Barrett said: “It really is a scandal that the company has axed the jobs of five harbour employees, rather than come to some fair arrangement with them to make savings while keeping the jobs. These job losses are devastating for the five people involved and their families.
It is a disgrace that councillors from all the main parties – Fine Gael, Labour and Fianna Fail – refused to support my proposal at this month’s Council meeting to discuss the planned job cuts and give some support to the harbour workers. It also very disappointing, if the reports I have heard are true, that the councillors on the harbour board agreed to the exclusion of the only workers representative on the board from a meeting where the planned redundancies were decided.
In my meeting with Gerry Dunne, he confirmed that moves by Stena to remove the HSS from the harbour this year – leaving only a small passenger ferry – would significantly reduce revenue to the harbour company, while at the same time Stena have also expressed an interest in acquiring the harbour if it comes up for sale as a result of the Mc Carthy proposals.It is not difficult to put two and two together here: Stena are deliberately pressuring the Harbour Company towards handing the Harbour over to them, and this is being facilitated by the government and the Mc Carthy agenda to sell-off semi-state companies.
At my meeting with Mr Dunne, he indicated the Harbour Company’s intention to develop the Carlisle Pier for public amenities and to engage in a public consultation on the harbour’s future. As far as it goes, this is a victory for the public protests against previous plans for high-rise apartments on the pier. However, such proposals will mean little if the harbour is privatised.
Given the very serious developments now taking place in the harbour, I intend to organise public meetings over the coming weeks to inform the public about what is going on. It is vital the public make their voices heard and that we fight to keep the harbour fully in public hands