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Dublin: 16°C Sunday 17 October 2021

'Ludicrous': Local representatives critical of Dublin City Council's €15m 'pet project' swimming pool

Concerns have been raised around the proposal to have the facility built and operated by a private entity.

Screen Shot 2020-07-09 at 13.51.52

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL is facing criticism over plans to develop a €15 million sea pool on the Liffey as concerns are raised that money for this “pet project” could be put to better use.

It emerged yesterday that the Docklands Office, an arm of Dublin City Council, has proposed to develop the floating swimming pool at Custom’s House Quay in the City Centre. 

It would contain an outdoor swimming pool around 50 metres long and up to 15 metres wide, on a floating platform on the river at Custom’s House Quay. 

The project, if backed by councillors, would be located a short distance from the white-water rafting facility which is due to be developed at the nearby George’s Dock. 

Independent councillor and CEO of Inner City Helping Homeless Anthony Flynn, however, described the plan’s as “ludicrous”. 

“Dublin City Council needs to get its priorities straight,” he told TheJournal.ie.

“The white-water rafting facility near doubled in cost, and the council wants to spend another €15m, it’s ludicrous. We have a crèche being evicted from their premises a stone’s throw away, and a training centre in the North Wall that lies idle and needs a complete redevelopment.

“This is where we need to spend our money – investing in communities. The Docklands has been built up around the North Wall & East Wall but the people have been forgotten.”

Flynn added that the “local community, what they want is money on investment in their children, not another pet project for the CEO.”

Screen Shot 2020-07-09 at 11.45.31 Site of proposed facility at Custom's House Quay. Source: DCC

Chief Executive of Dublin City Council Owen Keegan has long been a supporter of the white-water rafting facility despite concerns last year that any capital funding allocated to the project would be better spent on housing or local infrastructure. 

Private operators

The proposal from the Docklands Office indicates that a private business would build and operate the facility at the location in exchange for a 30-year licence and a nominal annual fee paid to the council. 

Labour Senator Rebecca Moynihan, who last December voted against the proposal for the white-water rafting facility as a Dublin City councillor, voiced concerns that a communal pool in the city centre should be maintained and operated by the council directly and not a private business. 

“I think it’s a good idea and one of the things at the time of the white-water rafting was that we don’t have enough municipal swimming pools,” she told TheJournal.ie.

“But one of the things this has is a private operator that is going to operate it. One of the things we don’t have in Dublin is municipal facilities so I would be wary about a private operator. 

“In every other European city, you have municipal services and municipal swimming pools. So the concept of the swimming pool is a great idea. I think it is needed much more than something like white-water rafting.” 

‘Outside the box’

Elsewhere, the proposal has been welcomed by some who say it demonstrates ‘thinking outside the box’. 

Dublin Chambers spokesperson Graeme McQueen said: “Amenities like this work really well in other cities abroad – and some of them with similar or worse climates that we have here in Dublin.

“We did a study mission to Copenhagen a few years ago and made a visit to the public swimming pool they have constructed in their old harbour. It has been phenomenally successful.

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“It was very interesting last year when the white water rafting announcement was made, that a lot of people said they’d like to see a public swimming pool introduced in the centre of Dublin.”

He added: “It’s good to see that the Council have listened to this and responded with this proposal.”

TheJournal.ie contacted Dublin City Council which declined to comment until the proposal goes before council members on the South East Area Committee on Monday. 

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