8 October 2018

Letter from Eamonn O’Reilly to David Browne

Dear Mr. Browne

Among a number of other suggestions from you, all characterised by potential great expense for the Exchequer, the Irish Independent of Saturday October 6th quotes you as saying Dublin Port should be moved.

You are not the first person to suggest this and probably not the last.

The common feature in all suggestions I have seen that Dublin Port should be moved is a lack of much, if any, analytical rigour.  If the suggestion is to be taken seriously, it must be accompanied by answers (or at least attempts at answers) to five basic questions:

  • Where would the port be moved to?
  • What size would the new port be?
  • How much would it cost?
  • How would it be financed?
  • What would be the benefits?

Two of these five issues were addressed as long ago as 2009 in The Dublin Port National Development Plan Study Report prepared for the Department of Transport by Indecon (in association with MDS, Jones Lang LaSalle and Adams Hendry Consultants).  This study was prompted by the Progressive Democrats’ entirely daft A New Heart for Dublin suggestion that Dublin Port could be sold for up to €30 billion, a new port built elsewhere and a new city within a city built on the vacated lands as you are now suggesting.

Among the conclusions in the Indecon report was that Nothing should be done at a policy level to block either the proposed expansion of Dublin Port or the proposed development of Bremore at this stage.  Since 2009, we have continued to expand the capacity of Dublin Port and (for very good reasons) nothing whatsoever has happened to progress with the development of new port facilities at Bremore.  

Nothing has changed in the nine years since 2009 to change my view that Indecon was correct in its assessment.

Given your position as President of the RIAI council, I am disappointed that that you would choose the RIAI Conference to put forward the viewpoint that Dublin Port should be moved.  Unless backed up by serious consideration of the issues I listed above, I consider your suggestion as both mischievous and reckless.  Coming from you in your position as President of the representative body of an important profession it carries unwarranted weight.

In a year when Irish architecture was so wonderfully represented by Yvonne Farrell’s and Shelley McNamara’s curation of the Venice Architecture Biennale, I also consider your remarks as damaging to the credibility of your profession.  

In recent years, Dublin Port has benefitted from the design excellence of a number of Irish architectural practices including Darmody Architecture, MOLA Architecture, O’Briain Beary Architects and Kavanagh Tuite Architects.  We will continue to rely on architects to help us achieve an integration of Dublin Port with Dublin City unparalleled among port-cities worldwide.

We will also continue to support schools of architecture in Dublin by making Dublin Port available for their studies to allow the next generation of architects grapple with the considerable challenge of sustainably integrating the industrial, the urban and the natural environments.

In the meantime, if you would like to have a conversation on the five issues I have listed above, please contact me.  It is only when these issues have been considered and satisfactorily addressed that a recommendation to move Dublin Port can be taken seriously and considerations of environmental impact can begin.

I have my opinions on these issues and they do not suggest Dublin Port should be moved.  If you have a better alternative analysis to mine, I would welcome hearing it.


Eamonn O’Reilly

Chief Executive, Dublin Port Company

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