ACCORDING to a report in this newspaper, Kinsale and other harbour towns want a slice of the €50m cruise-ship trade. Said county mayor, Christopher O’Sullivan: ‘West Cork’s extensive coastline and the fantastic facilities in our harbours make it a very appealing destination for sophisticated cruise clients.’
Fantastic indeed! Because just when Kinsale is about to lick its chops in expectation of the high-spending tourists (the ‘sophisticated cruise clients’), downsizing of the liner trade in Ireland is set to become a reality.
The number of liners berthing in Dublin is to be reduced to 80 – a cutback of 50% . Pulling no punches, the Dublin Port authorities explained the reason. It was all about ‘commercial pragmatism’ and the need to find space for the freight and container traffic in the wake of Brexit.
Indeed, Tánaiste Simon Coveney already has warned of the knock-on effect on tourism for Cork, Waterford, Belfast and other ports of call when Dublin limits access to cruise liners. The liners won’t be there to go to Belfast or Cork. As simple as that!
Not that our esteemed Transport Minister, Shane Ross, is worried. Much like Alfred E Neuman of Mad magazine, he described the crisis as ‘a temporary blip.’ The All-Ireland Cruise Ship Action Group, had a much more dramatic message: ‘Dublin’s catastrophic decision could devastate Irish tourism.’
Chairman of Cobh Tourism, Jack Walsh, warned that the economic consequences will be felt across the country, particularly in places such as Blarney, Kinsale and Killarney, where bus operators, tour guides, tourist attractions, cafés, restaurants and shops will be affected.
‘It will undo the good work done over many years,’ he said, and if cruise-liners were denied access to Dublin, they may decide not to visit Ireland at all.
Yet, ironically, Brexit aside, the cruise liner trade has not been greeted everywhere with a 100% welcome. In Cobh, for instance, a rancorous argument erupted between locals and the Port of Cork over a public right of way on the Deep Water Quay, the berthing location of the cruise liners.
The bad publicity did not shower kudos on the port authorities!
Then there’s the international unease at the environmental impact of cruise liners. For instance, according to Friends of the Earth, one ship can produce 13 million cars worth of CO2 in one day, and that liners are responsible for significant air pollution.
Environmentalists allege that burning dirty fuel can lead to serious human health problems and that vessels often run dirty diesel engines to provide electrical power to passengers and crew. The emissions, they say, contribute to serious cardiovascular problems, premature death, acid rain, habitat destruction and climate change!
Noise, too, is a matter of concern: In places where ships dock in close proximity to an urban area, motors are left running so that onboard fridges, air conditioning and other technical functions continue to operate. Before long, the incessant, high pitched rumble frazzles the nerves of townspeople.
Sewage, oily bilge water and air emissions also are worrying. For instance, a modest-sized cruise ship carrying 3,000 passengers and crew generates 150,000 gallons of sewage per week.
Even worse, the huge size of cruise liners in a small port can lessen the beauty of a location – even though the area’s outstanding features are what attracted liner traffic in the first place!
Jim Daly retires
Fair deuce to Jim Daly TD and mini-minister at the Department of Health, who announced last week that he would not be running in the next election. He was retiring from politics to concentrate on his family.
Curiously, although he admitted that during his time in politics he failed to change the world, observers would argue that he made a jolly energetic effort at trying to – often to the consternation of his Fine Gael bosses.
Daly is a right wing politico to the marrow, but his determination to speak the political truth, as he saw it, often had an unsettling effect on Blueshirt colleagues for whom truth and politics generally were on bad terms with each other.
For instance, in relation to the water charges protests, he blamed RTÉ for advertising protests as if they were St Patrick’s Day parades. He claimed that these were gatherings for people ‘to be disobedient’ and he advocated a €10 monthly fine for people who refused to pay water charges until they owed enough money to be brought to court.
Although a former pedagogue, delegates at an ASTI conference eviscerated him for fuelling a belief that teachers were highly-paid in terms of allowances. They warned that ‘teacher-bashing’ had become a popular sport, but the criticism didn’t upset Jim. It ran like water off a duck’s back.
As for trade unions, he was of the opinion that the greatest level of bureaucracy within the health service was at trade union level and that union control was so embedded in the system that it made reform very difficult.
Oh, and who can forget the ambulance campaigners in West Cork who accused him of abandoning them in their hour of need, or his participation in that infamous rebel group which successfully challenged Enda Kenny’s leadership of Fine Gael and replaced him with Vlad the Impaler?
Ah yes, heady days, indeed!
A proper democrat
Interesting too that Daly declared he had no ideological issue with Sinn Féin working alongside Fine Gael in a coalition-style government. It was a commonsense observation that produced a response among his cohorts verging on a pathological outburst of rage.
‘Sinn Féin was not fit to run the country,’ snarled Paschal Donohoe, the Minister for Finance.
‘I’ll quit,’ warned a senator so obscure that we forgot his name within ten seconds and, as for Vlad, well, here’s what Daly’s old conspiratorial chum said through a spokesperson: ‘Minister Daly is a very capable minister but he certainly wasn’t in a position to comment (on coalition with Sinn Féin).’
That hurt! ‘Not in a position to comment’! Oh dear!!!
Daly, to his credit, hit back: ‘You cannot just say you will not do business with Sinn Féin because they are Sinn Féin. You must have a valid reason for not doing business with Sinn Féin – they have a legitimate mandate, the people who vote for them are citizens of this State. So they have to be acknowledged.’
Which suggests that behind the right wing bluster, he is a thorough-going democrat, and for that reason he’ll be missed!