News & Media

New Vision launched for the protection and enhancement of Dublin Bay

28 June 2021

Statement by Ivana Bacik TD
Spokesperson on the Enviroment and Climate; Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth

Labour candidate in the Dublin Bay South bye-election, Ivana Bacik today launched a radical new vision for the protection and enhancement of Dublin Bay. Central to her proposal is a new statutory Dublin Bay Taskforce charged with preserving for future generations the distinctive character of Dublin Bay and its ecology as a coastal resource.

Launching her proposals with Dublin Bay North, TD, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, Ivana said:

“Dublin Bay is one of the greatest resources our city has.  We all have memories and connections to the Bay. It’s the view that often welcomes us home when flying into Dublin, it’s where many of us learnt to swim, sail or paddle. For others it’s the location for the opening chapter of Dublin’s great novel, ‘Ulysses’. All Dubliners have strong connections to the body of water that stretches from Howth to Sorrento Point.

“However, human activity is impacting this great natural resource. Water quality is poor, swimming is often prohibited because of pollution and the biodiversity of the bay is under threat from dredging and other activity. We need to act now to ensure that the environmental protection of Dublin Bay is a priority, not an afterthought.

“Today I am publishing draft legislation to establish a new Dublin Bay Taskforce. The Taskforce will have a very specific mandate:

  • to propose and promote policies and priorities for the protection and enhancement of the environment of Dublin Bay and of the natural habitats and wildlife in and around the Bay,
  • to co-ordinate, promote and support strategic planning and sustainable development in and around Dublin Bay,
  • to make recommendations to regulate and control pollution in and around Dublin Bay,
  • to promote public interest in and respect for Dublin Bay as a public amenity,
  • to co-ordinate the activities of public bodies and other organisations and persons in matters connected with the performance of its functions.

Membership of the Taskforce will come from elected members of the Eastern and Midland Regional Assembly and others with a special expertise or interest in the mandate of the Taskforce and the future protection of Dublin Bay.

“Environmental protection of Dublin Bay will be a priority for the Taskforce. However, it will also have a mandate to improve access and facilities around Dublin Bay. For decades we’ve had to endure the crumbling dereliction of the old Sandymount and Blackrock baths. These were hubs of community activity, hosting swimming contests, water polo matches, and featuring bandstands and music.  These are the type of public uses that we need to see back at Dublin Bay. They are projects, not just for one local authority, but for the whole of Dublin and a unified Taskforce with statutory powers can be transformative in improving access, including access for people with a disability, and delivering new recreational facilities for all of Dublin.

“The Taskforce model I am proposing works. For instance, on the east coast of the US the deterioration and pollution of Chesapeake Bay in the 1980s motivated political leaders of three States and Washington DC to join together to form a Taskforce to save the bay. This focus has seen significant federal funding invested to preserve the future of the Bay, improved water standards and greater responsible use of the Bay local communities.

“For too long we have taken Dublin Bay for granted. Not long ago 300,000 tonnes of sewage sludge were dumped in the Bay every year.  Today for instance there are real concerns about wastewater discharges from the Ringsend Wastewater Treatment plant and the potential damage that dredging of the port is causing to the ecosystem. We need a joined-up approach to the future protection and enhancement of Dublin Bay.  We need to act now, and my proposal is a necessary first step to change how we treat Dublin Bay and realise its remarkable potential.

Welcoming Ivana’s proposal, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said:
“This is an issue that Ivana, local councillors and myself having been working on for some time. During the pandemic we all saw how important public amenities were. Dublin Bay is the greatest public amenity we have and the laissez fare approach to its management has failed.

"There are some good individual projects underway, such as Dublin Port’s plan to open up its massive landholding to recreational activity.  However, the future of the Bay won’t be preserved by individual actions alone. It needs a coherent plan involving all stakeholders, informed by a very strong environmental mandate. That is what Ivana’s draft legislation puts in place and I strongly support the measure.”

ENDS

A copy of the bill can be found here.