Dublin Port will be shipshape and ready for a hard Brexit, says CEO

Ireland’s busiest port reports growth of 4.3% for 2018, with 38m tonnes passing through

Dublin Port will be “as prepared as it is possible to be” for the challenges of a hard Brexit, the State-owned company’s chief executive Eamonn O’Reilly has said.

The country’s largest and busiest port reported growth of 4.3 per cent in its full-year trading figures for 2018, reaching a record of 38 million tonnes passing through the port last year.

Mr O’Reilly said the port would have “significant additional border inspection post capacity” for State agencies in time for a hard Brexit should the UK crash out of the EU without a deal on March 29th.

“Coping with the challenges of a hard Brexit is a challenge not only for us but also for State agencies and for our customers,” he said.


He expects delays in transit through the port given the increase in the number of customs checks on incoming freight from the UK and new inspections required on food and animals as a result of Britain leaving the EU.

"If you are doing no checks today and some checks tomorrow, there will inevitably be delays," he told The Irish Times. This was due to an expected "chokepoint" being created, with queues of lorries coming off ferries into primary inspection posts after Brexit, he said.


The port is spending €30 million on primary and secondary inspection posts at the port in preparation for Britain’s expected departure from the EU single market and customs union.

The Government’s no-deal Brexit contingency plans include the creation of 270 truck parking spaces, 33 inspections bays and a live animal controls area at the port.

The port has already identified space for 11 truck and six van inspection bays, and parking for 158 trucks for the end of March, the Government said this week.

“While Brexit brings uncertainties and challenges to our business, the combination of investments by our customers and by Dublin Port is underpinned by a shared confidence in the future,” said Mr O’Reilly.


The port spent €93 million on port infrastructure in 2018 and plans to invest a further €147 million this year. Roll-on, roll-off lorry freight grew 4 per cent to 1.032 million units last year, passing the 1 million mark for the first time. Lift-on, lift-off container volumes grew by 4 per cent to 726,000 units.

Passenger numbers declined by 1 per cent to 1.8 million due to "operational issues on ferries," a statement from the port said. This is understood to relate to mechanical problems suffered by the Irish Ferries-owned Ulysses during 2018. The number of tourist vehicles declined by 1.2 per cent to 515,000.

Mr O'Reilly said that in addition to the €149 million Irish Ferries-owned WB Yeats entering service this year, the port was preparing for a second new Irish Ferries ship with just over five kilometres of lane space, and for Stena Line's lanemetre E-Flexer vessel, both of which start on the Dublin-Holyhead route in 2020.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is News Editor of The Irish Times