Foyle Port will leverage ‘unique’ cross-Border position after Brexit

Legislation governing port predates partition

Foyle Port’s day-to-day operations straddle Derry and Donegal.

Foyle Port’s day-to-day operations straddle Derry and Donegal.

 

Foyle Port, which has operations on both sides of the Border, plans to use its “unique” position to its advantage after Brexit, its chief executive said on Thursday. Brian McGrath said the port, which has reported a record turnover of £9.1 million (€10.2 million), is the “key marine gateway for the North West of Ireland” and is already a very “good case study” in how to operate across different jurisdictions.

Mr McGrath said the port’s daily business straddles the Border from its headquarters at Lisahally on the outskirts of Derry to Greencastle in County Donegal where its pilots are based.

Foyle Port is managed by the Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioners and their jurisdiction runs from Craigavon Bridge in Derry to a line drawn from the Tower on Magilligan Point to Greencastle Fort. The annual value of trade passing through the port is estimated to be in the region of £1 billion.

Mr McGrath said the port’s management team is optimistic that “common sense will prevail” in relation to a Brexit deal but he said because of the port’s location on the “periphery of Europe” it is well positioned to take advantage of any potential new opportunities that could be created as a result of a ‘no deal’ scenario.

“The legislation which governs the port predates partition and our entire operations straddle both British and Irish jurisdictions so we have always taken a very integrated approach to our operations and this will continue beyond Brexit. 

“We are not ignoring the reality on the ground - 30 per cent of our staff come across the Border from Donegal every day and 40 per cent of our imported commodities go back across the Border and we recognise there could be challenges but we’ve faced others during our 165-year history and we will still be here after Brexit - we are prepared for what’s in front of us,” Mr McGrath said.

Self-financing

The latest set of financial accounts show Foyle Port, which is self-financing and annually re-invests its profits, grew its turnover by 5 per cent in the 12 months to March, 2018.

But pretax profits at the port dipped from £2 million to £1.6 million in the year under review as a result of investment projects. 

Foyle is chiefly a bulk port and is a significant importer of key commodities including oil, coal and animal feed. About 40 per cent of these goods are imported from continental Europe. 

Foyle’s latest annual report shows gross tonnage handled by the port was 2.166 million in 2017/2018 - the majority of this was imports which totalled 1.722 million tonnes and exports which grew over the 12 months to 83,913 tonnes.