Dún Laoghaire – a Brexit opportunity
Sir, – As the concerns of a possible hard Brexit grow, the burden of added customs checks that would arise in such a scenario would be expected to place existing Irish ports infrastructure under significant pressure.
Currently Dún Laoghaire harbour is an underutilised port resource and consequently ought to be updated rapidly with European and exchequer funding in order to assist with the added import/export burden set to arise in the Dublin region.
The European Commission’s TEN-T (trans-European transport network) corridor strategy in a post-Brexit scenario is focused on maintaining smooth sea transport connections between Ireland and continental Europe through realignment of the “North Sea-Mediterranean Corridor”. Already in that context the commission has acknowledged the specific need to meet the challenges posed by growing trade that will need to occur via Irish ports post-Brexit. It has been suggested that ports in Belgium and the Netherlands are likely to receive EU funding to specifically help with this realignment exercise from the Connecting Europe facility infrastructure funding programme (which possesses a grant budget of €22 billion of TEN-T corridor improvement projects allocated for 2014-2020). Therefore the grounds for making a funding application to the EU in order for Dún Laoghaire harbour to be upgraded to participate in post-Brexit trading challenges are very strong.
Some 50,000 trailers per annum were in the past permitted at Dún Laoghaire port, and import/export operations on a similar scale could be encouraged on the same roll-on/roll-off basis that applied previously. In addition to trailers, the port could, for example, be used as a specialist port for import and export of new and used cars. While such operations would not represent anything close to the scale of Dublin Port volumes, Dún Laoghaire port could still be viably used to alleviate the burden of expected significant extra trading volumes that Dublin Port is forecasting for the years ahead.
The future of Dún Laoghaire harbour will be determined under the auspices of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and already a suggested capital funding requirement for maintenance amounting to approximately €33 million to help update harbour infrastructure has been estimated. Such funding would need to come primarily from external sources and it makes sense for a combination of European and exchequer funding to be allocated to reactivate the potential of Dún Laoghaire port for international trade ahead of the critical post-Brexit juncture. Needless to say, enhancing trading journeys to and from Dún Laoghaire would also provide a reliable ongoing revenue stream for the council and would bring much-needed clarity to the future of the harbour, in a context where uncertainty over the required €33 million harbour updating cost is clouding the prospect of other council capital projects throughout Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown. – Yours, etc,
Cllr JOHN KENNEDY,