Why Dún Laoghaire is back this February and this month we spoke to Cormac Devlin, Dublin Spokesperson and Deputy Party Whip and TD for Dún Laoghaire. We congratulated Cormac on his recent appointment as Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Dublin and Deputy Party Whip.
In this feature Cormac shared more about his role as a TD for Dún Laoghaire and how is he looking after interests of our town.
Here’s Cormac’s story.
“It is a great privilege and honour to represent the county.” – Cormac Devlin
Cormac is a representative for Dún Laoghaire area for many years, which, in his words, is a great privilege and honour. Cormac adds that the role is quite challenging at times, given the very nature of the work. Cormac is a member of Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee and the Climate Action Committee and a number of other committees.
These roles, as well as dealing with various queries and issues that arise from constituents make his role dynamic and very busy. Legislation for various elements of support for the business community were some of the priorities for Cormac in the recent period.
Not a single day in the office is the same. Events last year in the UK politics showed us that the situation change very quickly so he is always vigilant and responsive to the needs of various stakeholders and our community in Dún Laoghaire.
Regarding the engagement with Dún Laoghaire community, Cormac says: “There’s the other side of us (politicians), which is engagement with the community and with business groups, and different community organisations, boards, sports and community organisations. You have to listen to their concerns, particularly at the time of year when the Department of Finance is preparing the annual budget. And so a lot of the various representative and umbrella organisations will either have pre budget submissions, or suggestions for the budget.”
“Dún Laoghaire a jewel in the crown of the wider Dublin area” Cormac Devlin
We asked Cormac to weigh in his opinion about Dún Laoghaire as a business destination this is what he told us:
“It’s certainly a jewel in the crown of the wider Dublin area, I would argue, Dún Laoghaire itself has great recreation, leisure and tourism, not to mention heritage value, along with a thriving business community. And all of those are essential ingredients, obviously, for making a good place to do business. In the town you also have the support of the local enterprise office and the council working very closely with the business community. That all pays dividends for the town, and indeed, for all the small towns and villages across the county.”
Cormac adds: “Even just in my role, speaking to some successful businesses owners the last year, they’ve always cited the local enterprise office when they were starting out that it was pivotal in their success, which is brilliant to see.”
He also said: “There are several projects that, in tandem support from the business community, have been prioritised. This includes various county development plans, and various initiatives run by the council, one of them obviously being the significant investment along the town’s seafront. And then there’s the regeneration that the reopened Dún Laoghaire Baths represents. There’s the investment in People’s Park, and a number of other areas and all of those have contributed to an ever more positive experience in Dún Laoghaire town.”
That is not to say that Dún Laoghaire is without its issues as Cormac adds: “People come out from far and wide to enjoy, and rightly so. But that’s not to say that there aren’t issues. The main street itself has been working for many years trying to see how it can be revitalised. There’re many excellent businesses along the main street with good offer but, they would like to see greater footfall.”
Cormac is conscious that the Dún Laoghaire has two reports aimed to the prosperity of the town, and he hopes they will give a pathway forward for the council to further invest in the town to ensure that: “We see greater dividends, and not only from a residential and citizens’ point of view, but also from a business point of view.”
He wants businesses to feel the benefits of greater footfall into the town not only from those living on the outskirts and within the town environment, but also much further afield.
Cormac adds: “I’ve been speaking to businesses and they regularly say that, around the pier and the People’s Park, it’s always a hive of activity, there’s always a buzz. So it’s obviously just that thing of getting visitors up Marine Road and showing people there’s more to Dún Laoghaire. You just need to walk a couple of hundred metres of the road and there’s there’s so many businesses there with a wide variety of offerings.”
“There’s so much more to Dún Laoghaire than the pier and the People’s Park” Cormac Devlin
Bringing people from the waterfront and harbour to the main street is where Cormac heavily invested his efforts over the years.
“I know from my own experience in supporting the projects, there are various linkages between the seafront and Main Street which need to be built on. The most recent one being Haigh Terrace which was a very welcome investment. And I think we need to see more of that.”
“There will be a €3 million investment by the government in January in the harbour, that’s going to help create activity there as well. And all of that bodes well for business, the business environment, which we need to support and harness, particularly given the last two years of COVID.
Cormac Devlin: “Over a 3 million euro investment by the government to the harbour is going to bode well for the businesses in Dún Laoghaire”
Regarding the repurposing of the old ferry terminal, Cormac said:
“When it does open it will create in excess of 700 jobs and that’s extremely welcome. Obviously, the vacant terminal has come through a few iterations since the HSS left. But I think that the Quarterdeck project will going to benefit the town, and the creation of a strong digital hub and digital cluster there will benefit our county. ”
“Success breeds success” Cormac Devlin on the Ferry Terminal repurposing
Cormac continues: “I think that’s really, really important that this project happens because, success breeds success. We need, as the ferry terminal transforms, the transformation of further activity and life in that location of the harbour. The building is right beside a whole series of the connections into the town. And I think all of that bodes very, very well.”
“And as I said earlier about the independent KPMG Dun Laoghaire Town Study report, once we see implementation of some of the recommendations, assuming that elements of it are progressed by the council, that we can see the benefits of what’s happening on the seafront really contributing to what’s going to happen on the Dún Laoghaire main street.”
Cormac is conscious of the investment of time and money that needs to happen for this plan to come to fruition. He has also agreed that we need both the digital economy as well as vibrancy of the town and local, more traditional businesses.
In relation to the digital hubs, we asked Cormac to give his opinion on Dún Laoghaire becoming a remote working capital. With the Glass Houses and DigitalHQ in the George’s Street and the proposed conversion of the ferry terminal, we believe Dún Laoghaire needs to be ambitious and show leadership.
This is what Cormac said: “The idea of having those clusters of different enterprise, and digital enterprise is really, really important. And Dún Laoghaire has a national, if not international reputation now, as a magnet for digital business.”
“Dún Laoghaire has a national, if not international reputation now, as a magnet for digital business.” Cormac Devlin
“I think that’s a compliment to particularly the steering group in DigitalHQ, for the way that they have brought all the stakeholders together, which is a feat in itself. The report they produced was excellent, very comprehensive, that highlighted, the efficiencies and the benefits that Dún Laoghaire has to offer, but also highlights the remaining outstanding issues that need to be tackled.”
“Hubs are going to create what will be the beating heart of the digital transformation of the town” Cormac Devlin
“But certainly, I think the fact is that all of those hubs are going to create what will be the beating heart of the digital transformation of the town. And I think that’s going to bode well, not only for those businesses in that sector, but also all businesses.”
Cormac is aware that the hubs and traditional businesses can deliver the most when they collaborate and complement each other. And that’s also important for the transformation of Dún Laoghaire that it’s not just about digital, it’s also about the vibrancy of the town itself.
He also adds: “The COVID pandemic transformed some of those businesses that were purely shopfronts, to having a strong digital presence. And it gave them the confidence because they needed to do something different. The traditional businesses were kind of forced into it, but it was extremely important for their long term sustainability.”
The online trading vouchers that were introduced as a help to the traditional businesses, were maxed out soon after they were introduced. That was a sign of the popularity and the necessity of the vouchers for so many businesses that didn’t have the online presence.
Cormac said: “This whole concept is now ensuring that those businesses with shop fronts are being complemented by all the new small to medium sized digital businesses that have now decided to locate, be it remotely or permanently in Dún Laoghaire. And I know there’s a number of businesses that are looking to expand as well, which is excellent news. But it’s proof in the pudding that it’s working. So yes, to me, Dún Laoghaire is being put on the map. And I think it’s going to grow from strength to strength.”
“Dún Laoghaire is being put on the remote working map. And it’s going to go from strength to strength.” Cormac Devlin
Concluding our conversation, we asked Cormac what are the main issues in Dún Laoghaire he is particularly passionate about fixing. Reflecting on some of the previous thoughts he said:
“The synergy between the Harbour and the Main Street, that’s crucial. And it’s been an issue that’s kind of been there for quite some time. But I think we’re getting there. The leisure and tourism sector of the harbour needs to complement the economic side of the of the town’s Main Street, and we need to connect the two. Obviously, there’s an economic value, and there’s an economic trading down on the seafront, but it’s to try and marry the two.”
“Then there’s the debate about how the harbour is going to develop and how we’re going to do it sensitively, but to ensure that the harbour is vibrant, and that is able to be maintained to a high standard by the local authority.”
“There are also the number of long standing, unused or derelict buildings that are in council or state ownership. It’s very important that we see a plan put forward, that’s sustainable for them and make ensures that they’re reused.”
“For example I get so many inquiries about the vacant Carnegie Library every couple of months, because people are wondering what is happening with that beautiful, iconic building. The Carnegie building was given in trust for the people. And I am glad to see that IADT have reached agreement with DLR Co Co to occupy that amazing building. I just hope that the elected members, the counsellors, will see a way forward to ensure that the other vacant, state owned buildings in the town will be repurposed.”
Cormac said that repurposing these old buildings really presents a great opportunity for Dún Laoghaire to actively and proactively look at these sites, and chart a way forward to make sure that they’re utilised.
Ultimately, it is important that there’s a benefit from employment, to the local community and the wider business environment of Dún Laoghaire. And Cormac strongly believes that’s where we’re heading.
In Cormac’s words: “I want to play my role in supporting that to ensure we get to that target, increase employment in the town and really have a very vibrant area that people enjoy and we have a really vibrant successful town and area.”
And we at Digital Dun Laoghaire fully support that Cormac!