Eamon Ryan and Dublin Port need to resolve differences over expansion plans, Taoiseach says

Green Party leader has ‘significant concerns’ about 3FM project which aims to create biggest container terminal in State

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has suggested that Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan and Dublin Port management should sit down for detailed discussions over the port’s future development.

Mr Varadkar said Minister Ryan was in favour of the expansion of Dublin Port as he was himself but more discussion was needed to try to resolve issues over the port’s 3FM project aimed at building Ireland’s largest container terminal.

“He (Mr Ryan) was speaking as Minister for Transport and when he speaks as Minister for Transport, he speaks for the Government. (He) really needs to engage with Dublin Port, sit down with them and try to find an agreed way forward.”

Mr Ryan wrote to Dublin Port chairman, Jerry Grant, on Thursday expressing “significant concerns” about the 3FM project in the South Docks.


The project involves the creation of Ireland’s largest container terminal with a capacity to handle more than 350,000 containers each year, as well the construction of a new bridge over the river Liffey to carry freight traffic.

Mr Ryan took issue with the plan’s reliance on road freight instead of rail freight and with the plan’s growth assumptions. He suggested some of the lands earmarked for dock development should be used for housing and to expand the Poolbeg nature reserve.

However, Dublin Port responded in a short statement by saying the 3FM project was “fully aligned” with national and EU policy.

“Dublin Port is fully committed to the sustainable development of its assets in line with its statutory responsibilities and the national priorities and we will take all views and feedback into account as part of this process,” said the company.

Asked about the row during a visit to Cork, Mr Varadkar said while he wanted to see Dublin Port expand, he also wanted to see big expansion at Rosslare, Cork, Foynes and other ports around the country.

“I think Mr Ryan makes a very valid point about rail-based port developments, the need for more space for nature and particularly the opportunity for using some of the land in Dublin Port to provide much needed socially affordable housing so I think there is a pathway forward here.

Tánaiste Micheál Martin also played down the row between Minister Ryan and Dublin Port, saying that the Dublin Port plan had not yet been discussed in any great detail at Cabinet but he believed a resolution could be found.

Mr Ryan’s viewpoint was echoed by other TDs in his Dublin Bay South constituency where the port is located. Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan said the land was not being used to its maximum potential.

“It is an extraordinarily scenic and central location that should not be wasted on storing acres of haulage containers. We need a proper development plan that recognises much of its land must be used for residential development in order to solve the housing crisis in Dublin,” he said.

Labour leader Ivana Bacik said there was a need to ensure a better system of democratic governance for the port. Her private bill, the Dublin Bay Bill, proposes a new statutory agency with elected representation taking over co-ordination of planning for the Bay Area.

“I believe too much power over future plans for the Docks and Bay resides with Dublin Port,” she said.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times

Harry McGee

Harry McGee

Harry McGee is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times