Update: Independent Dublin City Councillor Mannix Flynn has described plans for a white water rapids rafting circuit and polo pool at George’s Dock as “superficial and artificial” and a “vanity project” for the city manager Owen Keegan.
He told RTÉ radio’s Today with Séan O’Rourke show that it was “an absolute lie of the first order” that the fire services were in favour of the €22m project which will include an emergency service training facility.
Assistant chief fire officer Greg O’Dwyer told councillors at yesterday’s meeting that the project would transform fire brigade training.
The fire brigade’s current training facilities in the upper Liffey area were inadequate and unsafe, he said. Staff had become ill because of the poor quality of the water and in some cases had to be rescued while they were training to rescue others.
Fianna Fáil councillor Mary Fitzpatrick told the same programme that the project is being funded by levies and grants ring-fenced for the development of the area.
The project’s recreational use and tourism value were secondary to its value to the emergency services, she said.
However, Cllr Flynn said that the project is not being promoted by the fire service and that the money should instead be used to fund projects such as providing public toilets. He added that the Liffey is a polluted river and that it should be cleaned up.
Cllr Fitzpatrick pointed out that Cllr Flynn did not vote against the project at Monday’s meeting. He explained that “once Owen Keegan brought in the fire service” there was no point in staying.
There was no report from the fire service prior to this, he said. This was just “buttressing up Owen Keegan’s vanity project,” adding: "what was the point of staying and arguing against grandiose services like this? It was not necessary."
Cllr Fitzpatrick defended the proposal saying it would provide employment for the area, engage with young people and would remain a public project.
Dublin City Councillors voted last night to let a plan for a white water rafting and Olympic canoe centre go ahead in the north inner city.
The facility George's Dock will be open to the public and sports clubs, as well as for training for the emergency services.
The facility will mostly consist of a rafting course, but also controlled teaching facilities and a 'floodable mock village' for training purposes.
The project has been welcomed by some, but also faced significant criticism online.
The project's costs have risen from just €12.2m to over €22m since it was first proposed.
Councillors spent over an hour debating the plan at their monthly meeting last night.
They eventually backed it by 37 votes to 19.