Dublin and Rosslare ports handle almost all of Ireland’s Roll-on/Roll-Off (RoRo) traffic destined for the UK market or using the UK landbridge to Europe. As such these ports, and shipping services from these ports, will remain of crucial importance to Ireland in the event of a hard Brexit.
I met with Dublin Port Company on the 20 March 2019 in relation to this issue.
Dublin Port is currently undertaking major capital infrastructure development in its Alexander Basin to provide additional cargo handling capacity for our growing economy. In the last six years there has been a 36% growth in freight at the port.
Dublin Port has confirmed that it will operate a full cruise season in 2019 and 2021 but that there will be some disruption to cruise business from 2021 to 2023 to enable construction work to take place while ensuring the port continues to handle large cargo volumes. Cruise berths will have to be limited to around 80 cruise ships yearly for a three year period from 2021. The port hopes to revert with increased cruise capacity after 2023 when its infrastructural works are completed and increase cruise calls back to 150 ships for the 2024/2025 season, and more thereafter.
To allow for this, Dublin Port has already secured planning permission to construct new berths for cruise ships on the North Wall Quay Extension. A cost benefit analysis is currently underway on these additional berths (due for publication later this year) and this forms a solid basis for discussion on how this vision can be brought to fruition.
In the interim Cobh continues as a dedicated cruise berth and it will remain so post Brexit. The Port of Cork has advised that they are working with Belfast Harbour to see if they can take some of the business that may be lost as a result of Dublin infrastructural works.
Fáilte Ireland (the National Tourism Development Authority) supports the development and promotion of various tourism sectors, including cruise tourism.