Contaminated harbour island is set for an IFSC-style makeover
IRELAND'S most polluted industrial site, Haulbowline Island in Cork Harbour, is set to be transformed by the second-biggest State development after Dublin's ISFC.
Enterprise Minister Michael Martin revealed yesterday that a special interdepartmental team would mastermind the blueprint of the multimillion-euro development of the former Irish Steel site.
Mr Martin, supported by Finance Minister Brian Cowen and Education Minister Mary Hanafin, confirmed that the project would mirror the showcase of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority.
"Cork is one of the world's great natural harbours and we want to see its potential exploited," said Mr Martin. "This project will transform Haulbowline and the lower Cork Harbour, making it an attractive place to work, live and do business."
He refused to speculate on the final development cost, although it is expected to run to hundred of millions of euros, given that the clean-up of the toxic pollutants from Haulbowline alone could reach â‚¬30m. "This 44-acre site has the potential to be the most attractive waterside site in Europe," said Mr Martin.
"Haulbowline has unique attractions, including the National Maritime College and the UCC Marine Research Centre.
"These and its longstanding marine traditions will form the basis for a complete redevelopment plan," he said.
Among the initiatives being earmarked in the development blueprint are:
* More than 200 luxury apartments.
* A state-of-the-art marina with a clubhouse and competition facilities.
* A world-class, 300-bedroom hotel.
* A maritime museum dedicated to Cork's nautical heritage.
* A landmark office building.
The project got cautious approval in Cork yesterday, although one former Irish Steel employee, former Labour TD for Cork East John Mulvihill, said the plan lacked specifics.
A contract is currently being processed for the demolishing of the derelict Irish Steel buildings and the removal of the worst of the contaminated material.
One Government environmental report has indicated that it could take up to five years to decontaminate and clean up the site - and it could cost over â‚¬30m.
The Irish Steel plant was closed in June 2001 with its parent company, Ispat International, claiming that the plant was losing over â‚¬1.2m per month. More than 400 workers lost their jobs, with a dozen private firms, suppliers and service contractors either collapsing or having to slash their workforces because of the steel mill's closure.
Mr Mulvihill warned that Cork Harbour was being subjected to "death by a thousand cuts" because of the ongoing controversy over Irish Steel/Irish Ispat and the failure to clean the site.
Following the collapse, Ispat International took a claim for â‚¬29m, which it claimed it was owed by its Irish subsidiary.
Ispat International claimed that the money was owed after it was forced to use its cash to prop up the failing subsidiary, which it had purchased for Â£1 in 1995/96 from the then-Rainbow Coalition.
Irish Ispat owed most to State and semi-State agencies. Workers were owed â‚¬7m, of which more than â‚¬900,000 was for statutory redundancy payments already taken in hand by the Government.
Great news that they are starting to clean up Cork Harbour. But what are the possibilities with it ?? Are there any new and exciting buildings being planned that push back the frontiers of architecture in Ireland ?