Is Dublin Port really a waste of space?


Sir, – David McWilliams (“Dublin Port is a waste of space. Move it”, Opinion, February 10th) says we should “move the port and make Dublin one of the great cities”. If only it were that easy.

Dublin Port is where it is for a good reason. The east coast is shallow and sandy and the Liffey, augmented by the Great South Wall and the North Bull Wall, provides relatively deep water. To get equivalently deep water elsewhere on the east coast would require massive breakwaters (think of the size of Dún Laoghaire’s piers and multiply by at least five) to build a huge new harbour on pristine and precious coastline.

Your columnist says “transport depots do not need to be by the sea”. That is why we are already developing the 44 hectare Dublin Inland Port 14km inland to accommodate the empty container depots and haulier yards we will move from Dublin Port.

David McWilliams speaks of “massive oil drums”. He is referring to large tanks containing close to 400,000 tonnes of petroleum products through which flows 4.3 million tonnes of product a year. I believe it would be near impossible to get planning permission and other necessary consents for such a move.

He says “Dublin Port only employs 140 people”. In fact there are more than 3,000 people working in Dublin Port.

“An international state-of-the-art port” that serves the Dublin-Belfast corridor is an “absolute must”, he writes. We have that already in Dublin Port.

Apparently we should do what they have done in, for example, Copenhagen and Barcelona. The equivalent in Dublin to what these cities have done is to build further into Dublin Bay, something we will not do.

To build a new port somewhere else would take 20 years. References to a “crippling housing shortage” are irrelevant in this timescale. The problems cited by David McWilliams of urban sprawl can be dealt with independently of Dublin Port and in a much shorter timescale.

Furthermore, in the time it would take to build a new port, the volumes through Dublin Port will have more than doubled. In the last five years alone, volumes have increased by 30 per cent. We are developing Dublin Port to reach its maximum capacity by 2040. We invested €75 million in 2017, will invest €132 million in 2018 and need to invest €1 billion in the 10 years to 2027 just to keep pace with growth. The lands in Dublin Port are far from underutilised. In 2016, throughput was 113,000 tonnes per hectare compared to 55,000 in Rotterdam and 49,000 in Barcelona. By 2040, this will rise to 300,000 tonnes.

Where would David McWilliams build his new port? What size would it be? How would he be sure he would get planning and other consents? How would he finance the project? What financial returns would it make? What economic returns would it generate?

David McWilliams patronises the management in Dublin Port by saying that we are “doing a fine job” and that “the same expert management are well placed to deal with a move”. Based on what we know about Dublin Port and about port development projects, we would never consider a project in any way resembling what he is suggesting because we believe it would be a waste of time and a waste of money. – Yours, etc,


Dublin Port Company,

Port Centre,

Alexandra Road,

Dublin 1.

Sir, – David McWilliams has a point.

If you have ever arrived into Dublin by ferry or even as part of a cruise, the image of the city could not be more depressing. Berthed in the middle of nowhere and proceeding through Docklands that certainly give a different and grubby welcome. Once out of there, you enter the maze out of the city or into the chaos which is the heart of the city.

With the coming of Brexit and the need to move goods by boat, the investment in a deep-water port with easy access is a necessity to take heavy traffic away and enable the rebirth of the docks. I draw comparison with Liverpool, which is reinventing its docks with a deep-water port to take the massive container ships, with the river flowing by the residences and amenities of the future, and even a football ground. Dublin needs to take the bold step of thinking outside the box – it has so much to offer, and the docks could be the new destination. – Yours, etc,





Sir, – David McWilliams’s solution is one that makes huge sense for Dublin as a capital city. For many decades, Dublin has turned its back on Dublin bay. As citizens and tourists, we can hardly see or know that Dublin is beside the sea. He makes the valid point that a sea port no longer needs to be at a river mouth as commercial trade no longer arrives by river. How wonderful a city Dublin could be if it became a bay city, with housing, parks, cycling paths, leisure facilities and cafés, all taking advantage of the beauty of Dublin Bay. As Dublin becomes more traffic congested, a well-designed off-road cycle and pedestrian route all around Dublin bay would benefit everyone and the environment. Funds raised from the sale of the lands now occupied by Dublin Port could be spent on good design and infrastructure. This would leave a real and lasting legacy to our children, and would make Dublin a cool and modern capital. – Yours, etc,



Co Dublin.