€2m flagship marina plan: Rosses Point could lose out

By Harry Keaney, Sligo Champion Wed 7th July 2004

FEARS are mounting that the long awaited marina for Rosses Point – a flagship tourism project not only for Sligo but for the entire North West – could now be lost to County Donegal where, it’s believed, a number of locations are being strongly promoted.

Funding to start work on the €2.214m first phase of 54-berth marina at Rosses Point has already been sourced, and a contractor has been selected and is available to start work.

But it has now emerged that Sligo County Council is unable to proceed at present because of contradictory messages from different government departments about underwriting the project.

The Department of the Marine is asking the county council to agree to guarantee the project in relation to current and future operating losses and liabilities.


However, it appears both the departments of Finance and Environment are now frowning on this practice following a review of the Jeannie Johnston ship project in Kerry.

“The review was critical of the practice of certain public bodies seeking guarantees from other public bodies as a means of passing off some of the risks inherent in funding decisions,” County Council Director of Services Dorothy Clarke told council members during a meeting on Monday at which the Rosses Point project was the subject of lengthy debate following motions from Cllrs. Ita Fox, Seamus Kilgannon and Jude Devins.

Ms. Clarke added that the Department of Finance had indicated to all government departments that “duplication across the public sector of funding risks in respect of individual projects does not represent good practice and as a rule should not take place.”

Ms. Clarke also told the meeting, attended by a number of those involved in the marina project, that the county council had sought clarification from the Department of the Marine as to why it was still requesting such guarantees and to consider its request.

“Their response is still awaited,” she said.

Caught in middle

Said Director of Services Tim Caffrey: “The Department of the Environment tells us not to enter into an agreement, the Department of the Marine says we must enter into an agreement, the officials of Sligo County Council are caught in the middle, and until that matter is resolved, we cannot proceed.”

The Department of the Marine has also not yet given full and final approval of a contribution of €1,270,000 toward the project.

Failure to secure the marina project for Rosses Point would be a severe blow to Sligo’s efforts to promote tourism and water-based activities.

“Sligo would be left behind as usual,” said Dr. Brendan Healy, one of those involved in the project.

Now, in an effort to resolve the impasse, local Oireachtas members are to be asked to set up an immediate meeting with the Minister for Marine.

Clr. Declan Bree proposed a motion, seconded by Clr. Jimmy McGarry, that the delegation to meet the Minister should consist of representatives from the county council, borough council and the sponsors of the project.

And on the proposal of Clr. McGarry, seconded by Clr. Cawley, the council agreed to hold a special meeting as soon as a written response is received from the Department of the Marine, and to establish a subcommittee consisting of representatives from North Sligo and Clr. Gormley.

Despite the latest fears that Sligo might lose the project, Ms. Clarke said the council was “still hopeful and optimistic” that it would get the go-ahead from the Department of the Marine in the “very near future.”

“Everything possible is being done to advance this project,” Mr. Caffrey assured the council meeting.