Dublin and Dun Laoghaire vie over cruise traffic

Harbour seeks limits to the number and length of cruise berths in Dublin Port

Dublin Port is "not the most suitable place for cruise vessels" and Dun Laoghaire ranks as a much more attractive tourist gateway, a planning inquiry has been told.

The inquiry into Dublin Port Company expansion plans was also told the development of large, cruise ship facilities at the port should be limited, with the tourism gain from such business spread across the Dublin region.

Planning consultant for Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company Dr Diarmuid O’Grada also warned that should a large scale cruise ship break down in the navigation channel at Dublin, it could have a major economic impact on the port’s cargo handling.

A more sustainable solution was that the role of the south Dublin town as a tourist port should be taken into account in going after the burgeoning cruise ship business, he said.


Dr O'Grada who said he also represented the views of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and the Dun Laoghaire Business Improvement Group said there must be "collaboration" to secure overall tourism growth.

Dublin was an industrial port “and a substantial proportion of the cruise ship traffic would be better accommodated in Dun Laoghaire harbour”, he said.

Comparing the two ports he said the Dublin Port zoning made it vulnerable to potential “bad neighbour” usage, such as chemical processing and scrap yards which would not be tolerated elsewhere.

“Port views from the cruise ships would be over lands that are dull, dark and depressing,” he said.

In contrast high visitor expectations could be better met by Dun Laoghaire, which was “much more welcoming, offering a clean and pleasant berthing area for cruise ships,” he said.

Dr O’Grada requested that should Bord Pleanála grant permission for the Dublin Port plan, there should be two conditions attached: that there be only two berths for cruise ships, and that their length be restricted.

The planning hearing has previously heard from Dublin Port’s consultant Luis Ajamil of US-based Bermello, Ajamil and Partners. Mr Ajamil said if the port fails to cater for cruise ships of over 300m in length, it will “become obsolete” and will be out of the rapidly expanding cruise business.

Mr Ajamil said the fact was that cruise ship passengers wanted to see Dublin and had booked to see Dublin, with as short as possible a transfer distance - preferably one that was walkable. Research had shown such visitors felt Dun Laoghaire was too far away, he said.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist