Wed, Jan 27, 2021
Read in 5 minutes
Appearing on RTÉ's Prime Time at the time of the Council vote on the white-water rafting proposal (Dec 2019) Neasa explained the issues she had with the proposal and why she voted against it.
The record showing how Councillors voted on DCC’s plan for the white-water rafting facility on George’s Dock can be viewed here.
David McCullagh: Is it a bit surprising that that money’s been spent before the Council actually approved it?
Deputy Neasa Hourigan: It is and I understand that you do need to do some work around a development proposal but that is quite a chunk of money.
David McCullagh: It is indeed. Gary Gannon a lot of people will look at this and see Celtic Tiger style notions at a time the city has a lot more pressing needs.
Deputy Gary Gannon: Yeah let’s be very clear the reason this passed last night was because of a very significant intervention from Dublin Fire Brigade who came to the City Council and outlined their grievances they’re having in terms of when their providing training in the River Liffey and out in Glendalough the Dublin Fire Brigade have been experiencing toxicity levels that are making them sick, that wasn’t suitable to the type of training they need or conducive to the service that they provide the city and I’m not going to undermine that. Dublin Fire Brigade have over one hundred water-based rescues each year, twenty of them come out of the River Liffey and comparatively they have had forty-eight in terms of fire and house rescues. We’re talking about people’s lives here. We’re talking about people providing them valuable services. That’s the reason this passed.
David McCullagh: Ok Neasa Hourigan what about that argument? That it’s all for the Fire Brigade?
Deputy Neasa Hourigan: Well I don’t think anybody in Dublin City Council begrudges Dublin Fire Brigade support and I think that they do need to do this training. I envisage in the future there will be significant flooding in this country, and we do need to train and prepare for that. Part of the reason that this has doubled in cost from twelve million to just over twenty-two million is because we changed from the Cardiff version of this, which is what the financial model is based on, to the New York state-of-the-art version of this which is actually the disaster-preparedness system that they have in New York which was built directly as a response to Hurricane Katrina for first-responders all over the US. Now that training needs to be done. Do I think it needs to be done right in the middle of the city centre? I don’t. And do I think that we need Hurricane Katrina-levels of preparedness? I don’t.
David McCullagh: That remains to be seen. Gary Gannon, as you saw in the report there a lot of people are looking at this and saying are you nuts? Twenty-two million at a time when the latest housing figures have come out, hundred and seventeen people homeless. A survey says Dublin is the worst city in the world to move to look for accommodation. And your own Party has a motion of no confidence in the Housing Minister being debated as week speak. And Dublin City Council are spending twenty-two million on this?
Deputy Gary Gannon: Let’s be clear where this money comes from. If this was a zero-sum game where that money could be spent somewhere else, particularly in the area of homeless and housing, nobody would be supporting this. But it wasn’t. In terms of twenty-two million, thirteen of that comes from State grants that can only be used for sports or tourism-
David McCullagh: There’s other sports facilities that could be-
Deputy Gary Gannon: Absolutely. There’s five million going in for development levees that could only be spent on recreational facilities around the area and then four million in loans from Dublin City Council that will be recouped over the course of about two years.
David McCullagh: You hope.
Deputy Gary Gannon: Well that’s the projections.
Deputy Neasa Hourigan: Well as you can see there fifty percent roughly of that funding is going to come from DCC budgets. So, half of that is going to come from borrowing which is going to be serviced by a two hundred thousand cost every year. We asked all sorts of questions last night around the costs, because a doubling in cost is fairly significant. One of the questions I asked was what will the insurance costs be? They couldn’t tell us. What will be the energy usage? What are the costs relating to that energy usage? They couldn’t tell us. What will be the price point be for an average person using it or a local person using it? They couldn’t tell us. And is twenty-three million the exact amount it will cost? They couldn’t tell us.
David McCullagh: The cost has gone up by ten million euro, partly because they forgot to include VAT. So, you are relying on a cost production from people that have forgot about VAT.
Deputy Gary Gannon: But that’s also not where the cost has gone up. Let’s be very clear-
David McCullagh: Well it’s part of the reason.
Deputy Gary Gannon: It’s part of the reason. That was a projection that Dublin City Council gave us back in January but it’s also two very significant building going in there. The building across from the CHQ, that’s going in there. There’s a flood defence system going in. And most importantly there’s a change to what we’re offering here, there’s a street landscape going in terms of the coarse that Dublin Fire Brigade have asked for in terms of being able to provide for their training. And we can’t separate ourselves from the fact we’ve been told we need to be led by experts in terms of development policy. Dublin Fire Brigade have told us we need this in this city to make their jobs safer.
David McCullagh: Do you expect this to be built?
Deputy Neasa Hourigan: No.
David McCullagh: Ok, thank you both very much for joining us.