Dublin Port Company to submit plan for new Liffey bridge later this year

Cargo volumes at transport and sea freight hub fall amid ‘cautious’ economic sentiment

Plans to build a new bridge over the river Liffey linking the north and south portions of Dublin Port are at an advanced stage and will be submitted for planning permission later this year, Dublin Port Company has said.

Aimed at taking heavy goods traffic off local roads, the bridge is part of the third and final component of the master plan to expand the transport hub. The 3FM project, as it is called, will also include the development of the largest container terminal in the Republic near the ESB’s Poolbeg power station and a new maritime village, incorporating facilities for water sports and sea scouting.

Barry O’Connell, chief executive of Dublin Port, said the 3FM project was now “at an advanced design stage and will be submitted later this year for planning”.

The company has also reported that the volume of goods moving into and out of the port fell in the first half of the year as global inflation coupled with Chinese economic uncertainty led to a decline in imports and exports.


Import volumes were down 3.6 per cent compared with the same period last year to 10.8 million gross tonnes while exports slipped 3.5 per cent to 7.1 million tonnes.

Unitised trade, which includes both trailer and container traffic, fell 5.4 per cent over the period.

The figures reflected a “very strong first half” in 2022 when volumes rose 10 per cent year-on-year, Mr O’Connell said.

“The second half of 2022 was flat in terms of growth rates, so we are expecting modest positive growth in the second half of 2023 as markets recover,” he said. “A dip is not unusual and reflects the ebb and flow of imports and exports in a more cautious economic environment.

“In the medium to long term, we still expect to see continued growth in volumes as the economy rebounds and consumer sentiment steadies. As recently as June, there was a 1.1 per cent rise in exports, a notable shift from the average monthly decline of -4.4 per cent over the preceding five months. This tallies with market and CSO commentary on Ireland’s exit from a technical recession.”

In interim results published last week, Irish Continental Group reported a 15.9 per cent decline in container volumes compared with the first half of 2022.

The Irish Ferries operator said the number of containers handled at ICG’s terminals in Dublin and Belfast fell 7.5 per cent “driven by weak export and import levels in China”.

Passenger numbers at Dublin Port climbed 13.6 per cent in the first half as the post-Covid recovery in travel continued while the number of tourist vehicles passing through the hub increased by more than 11 per cent to 217,788.

“Overall, Dublin continues to outperform the all-island market in both roll-on/roll-off and lift-on/lift-off, underscoring continued demand for the world-class route to market offering here,” said Mr O’Connell.

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times