The National Aquatic Centre (NAC) (Irish: Sportlann Uisce Éireann) is a water-sports facility located in the townsland of Abbotstown (a constituent part of the barony of Castleknock), near the village of Blanchardstown, in the city of Dublin.
The NAC was built to be "the home of Irish swimming", with modern facilities such as a 50m competition pool (one of only three in Ireland), diving pool with movable floor, and leisure centre - it is Ireland's largest indoor water leisure facility.
The centre was completed and opened in March 2003 and hosted the Special Olympics in August 2003 and the European SC Championships in December 2003. It can accommodate 2,500 seated spectators.
In January 2005, the centre sustained roof damage during a period of stormy weather and it had to be closed for five months in order to receive repairs. This closure, after only 18 months operation, damaged the business of the operating company, Dublin Waterworld. Campus & Stadium Ireland Development, the State company which owns the centre, commissioned an engineer to assess the roof damage and they concluded that the roof was not designed and constructed in accordance with the building regulations. During the closure period CSID commenced legal proceedings to remove the operators, which they successfully did. The centre re-opened to the public on 20 May, 2005.
The centre is now home to many swimming competitions including the Irish Long Course Championships and Leinster Age Groups. Many clubs around the Dublin area use the competition pool to train in, although training hours in the pool are limited.
The diving pool is home to Dublin Diving Club and Master's Diving Club but is also used for water-polo matches and tournaments. It can also be difficult to get training hours in the diving pool due to competing commercial demands.
Olympic sized swimming pool:
The National Aquatic Centre houses Irelands 1st Olympic pool. In 2003 it was used for the 2003 Special Olympics and later in the same year hosted the Ligue européenne de natation.
Aquazone is the name of a water park which operates in the Aquatic Centre, formerly known as Dublin Waterworld. The water park features three water slides (The Dark Hole, The Green Giant and the Master Blaster), a surfing-machine, a Lazy River and a large pool that generates waves.
There is also a gym on-site.
The National Aquatic Centre has been embroiled in controversy almost from the beginning, from the concept to construction to the operating arrangements, culminating in a complex 10 year VAT dispute between the former operator Dublin Waterworld and the state agency CSID which the state ultimately lost.
The Government (through its company, CSID) took a High Court case to repossess the centre due to failure of Dublin Waterworld to pay a "Vat" bill of over €10 million. CSID also alleged that the NAC was not being properly maintained. The High Court appointed expert found numerous flaws in the building but stated that these were not the fault of the Operator Dublin Waterworld.
On 1st Jan 2005, the roof of the NAC fell off in a storm, experts appointed by the Government found that the builders had not installed the roof in accordance with the building regulations.
The first case was settled with both sides paying their own costs and Dublin Waterworld agreeing to vacate the Centre. However CSID succeeded with its VAT claim in the High Court following arbitration. The arbitrator found that CSID was correct, the Supreme Court would later state that the Arbitrator, the then incoming president of the Institute of Taxation had made significant and fundamental errors.
Whilst Dublin Waterworld operated the Centre without a state subsidy, the tax payer has now subsequently subsidised the NAC by over €2m annually under the operation of CSID.
In late 2005 CSID attempted through Section 214 of the Companies Act to have Dublin Waterworld put into liquidation and to have resrictive orders taken against its Directors. Dublin Waterworld avoided this by obtaining a stay in the Supreme Court.
In 2009 Dublin Waterworld discovered through the freedom of information act that CSID had not obtained a valid valuation of the lease and that CSID's valuer had misrepresented his qualifications.
In 2010 the Supreme Court heard Dublin Waterworld's appeal against a High Court and Arbitrators decision that it owed Campus and Stadium Ireland Development €10,254,600 in VAT.
In April 2010 Supreme Court unaminously found for Dublin Waterworld on all grounds and stated that the Arbitrator, Mr Dermot O Brien the incoming President of the Irish Taxation Institute had "gravely misled himself on the law". Dublin Waterworld made Irish legal history by being the first ever private company to succeed in overturning both an arbitrators decision and a High Court decision together.
In May 2010 Campus and Stadium Ireland Development had sought to have the VAT dispute reheard at Arbitration. The Supreme court refused to appoint the previous Arbitrator but permitted a new arbitration. On the 26th July 2010 Campus and Stadium Ireland Development withdrew from the second arbitration and confirmed that their VAT charge of €10,254,600 was incorrect. In late 2010 the Revenue Commissioners confirmed that CSID was never entitled to charge VAT.
Costs for the High Court, arbitration and Supreme Court were awarded to Dublin Waterworld Ltd.
The conduct of Campus and Stadium Ireland Development limited is currently under investigation by the Public Accounts Committee when it emerged that they had ignored both the advice of the Attorney General and the Comptroller and Auditor General, who both advised against taking the VAT case.