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 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
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
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.”