By Dan Walsh
The development at Trinity Wharf and the establishment of MARA in Wexford town got airtime in Dail Éireann yesterday (Thursday) when Minister James Browne, Minister of State with responsibility for Law Reform spoke at the second stage of the Marine Area Planning Bill 2021.
Minister Browne said; “A couple of years ago, Wexford County Council put forward proposals to develop Trinity Wharf in Wexford town to rejuvenate a brownfield site at the heart of the town to help to develop the socio- and commercial development of the area, to facilitate economic growth and, in particular, to create a vibrant place to live, to do business and to support the cultural part of that town.
“I was delighted recently when the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy Darragh O’Brien, provided almost €19 million under the European Regional Development Fund, (ERDF), scheme to help to develop that as the location is wonderful, looking over Wexford Harbour and Wexford town has a rich maritime history.
“The Minister, Deputy Darragh O’Brien, visited Wexford town only two weeks ago with me and the Mayor, Cllr. Garry Laffan, from Wexford town, where he confirmed that the new Maritime Area Regulatory Authority, (MARA), will be in Trinity Wharf. I could think of no better location.
“There is a rich history in Wexford and we have deep connections to Savannah, to Newfoundland, where you can still hear the Wexford accent several hundred years later, and to Argentina. We did not go to anywhere handy in the United States, like New York or Chicago. We went to some very distant places but our history and tradition is still there.
“I wish MARA the best as a key agency. It will be in a county where we already have the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. It is a crucial agency to support the Maritime Area Planning Bill and to ensure it will be effective in ensuring the protection of our coastlines and developing the potential of those coastlines, but to do so in a manner that is safe and protective of our coastlines and our climate and in a way that recognises the local communities.
“It will be critical that in any developments that MARA will oversee, the local communities on the coastlines are protected and, whether they be the fisheries or the villages, are involved and consulted. They should also benefit from any economic advancements because of developing offshore wind energy, such as wind, tidal and other wave energies. Of course, that would be another key part of it as well.
“We are facing a catastrophe around climate change or, to use the more apt phrase because of what is happening, global warming. MARA will be critical to ensuring we can develop that offshore energy in a manner that recognises the importance of our coastal culture. Our sea area is seven times the area of our landmass. We have huge potential there to develop it, but in a sustainable way that helps to tackle global warming and climate change.
“As I say, this will be a hub of excellence based in Wexford town. I tried to argue that if you stood up on top of Vinegar Hill in Enniscorthy town on a ladder you could see the sea on a clear day and maybe Enniscorthy would be a great location for MARA but that was an argument and a stretch a bit too far.
“I congratulate the Minister, Deputy Darragh O’Brien, on this Bill. It has huge potential. I also congratulate the Ministers of State, Deputies Noonan and Peter Burke, who no doubt have had significant input into these proposals.”