Labour, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail councillors at Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Council meeting, vote to “exit” from a commitment to a public swimming pool at the Dun Laoghaire Baths site.
Last night at the July meeting of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, councillors voted to abandon all plans for a swimming pool at the baths site and instead are going to hand over €1.5 million of public funds to the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company as a contribution towards an “urban beach” at the East Pier.
In 2004 Save Our Seafront organised 20000 people to sign a petition and 5000 people marched to demand the refurbishment of the baths as a swimming amenity and to stop a crazy scheme to build ten storey apartments on the site. This magnificent display of people power ensured that the seafront was not built on and at the time the councillors all voted to restore the baths with a public swimming pool.
Since then the council has dragged its heels and consistently deprioritised this project. Last year when a motion was put before the council to include the baths as a flagship project in the Captial Programme only the People Before Profit Councillors, Hugh Lewis and Melisa Halpin, voted for it.
Despite this delay, the county manager has always insisted that the there was still a commitment to putting a swimming amenity at the baths site. The vote last night has now changed all this. The long fingering is over and the council has now voted to abandon all plans for a swimming pool at the baths site.
Cllr Melisa Halpin (People Before Profit, Dun Laoghaire) said: “I am absolutely disgusted that some of the very councillors who voted for a swimming pool at the baths just a few short years ago have now voted against it. Thousands of us marched and campaigned and were delighted when we finally got a commitment from the council to redevelop the site with a swimming pool. Little did we know that this commitment would be abandoned so easily.
When the manager presented the plan last night he stated that a vote in favour of his latest plan would be a way to “exit from the whole baths thing”. With this sentence he showed the absolute total disregard he has for democracy and for the people of the county.
It is an outrage that we will be handing €1.5 million over to the Harbour Company to develop an “urban beach” for which we have seen no plans and have no real idea of how it will work and how long it will be there for. The people of Dun Laoghaire should not let this issue go. The plans to refurbish the baths site will be brought before the council in the autumn and we will have a final chance to force the councillors to stand by their previous positions and include a swimming pool even at that late stage.”
Richard Boyd Barrett, People Before Profit TD and Chairperson of Save Our Seafront (SOS) added: “We, in SOS and People Before Profit will not give up on the campaign for a public swimming pool at the Baths site.
Council management claim there is no money for the swimmimg pool, but we are not convinced that all avenues have been exhausted in the search for funds.
I will be putting questions to the Minister for Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadker, this afternoon in the Dail looking for funds for this project. The Victorian Baths were one of the many tourist attractions in Dun Laoghaire over the last century, the Minister has an obligation to protect our tourist heritage and we hope that he will take up this project and provide the swimming pool that the people of Dun Laoghaire have campaigned for.”