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Displaying items by tag: Minister for Transport

#DUBLIN PORT – Leo Varadkar, Minister for Transport, has appointed James Frater to the board of the Dublin Port Company.

The Irish Times reports that the Scot has held senior positions at ports in the UK, Hong Kong and Oman.Dublin Port is the country's largest such facility, handling roughly half of the State's trade.

Published in Dublin Port

#PORTS & SHIPPING – Irish Ports are to be reviewed by an in-depth Government Plan to see how funding expansion of the nation's ports can be carried out through the private sector. The Government have ruled-out selling strategic port facilities to fund such projects.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said that a study by the Competition Authority into Ireland's ports would also examine whether Dublin Port had an economically dominant position. Minister Varadkar said that "Dublin Port is hugely successful with 40% of our GDP going through it."

He said that "part of our study will look at whether it is profitable because it is dominant or because it is very competitive."

Minister Varadkar said that "Dublin Port is hugely successful with 40% of our GDP going through it" and added "part of our study will look at whether it is profitable because it is dominant or because it is very competitive."

For more on this story as reported by RTE News click HERE.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#MCIB - The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has called for better safety awareness among leisure boat users in its report into the deaths of two men off Helvick Head in Co Waterford in May 2010.

John O'Brien and Pat Esmonde were lost overboard from their small RIB on 23 May 2010, and their remains were recovered two days later. Post-mortems confirmed that both died by drowning.

The report does not conclude exactly how the incident occurred. But accounts from eyewitnesses who sighted the men in the minutes before state that neither was wearing a lifejacket, despite the legal requirement to do so - and despite O'Brien having no seafaring experience and Esmonde being unable to swim, as confirmed by their families.

The MCIB also noted that while there were two lifejackets aboard the vessel, they were for emergencies and not suitable for constant wear as per the requirements for the vessel class.

Other safety issues highlighted include the kill-cord on the engine, which was not being used, and the fact that the initial distress call was made by mobile phone and not VHF radio.

Though neither had any bearing on this specific incident, the MCIB warned in particular that mobile phone calls are closed in nature, whereas VHF distress calls can be heard and answered by any vessel in the vicinity.

The board recommends that the Minister for Transport "undertakes a highly visible information poster campaign on piers and launching areas relating to lifejackets, VHF radio and emergency contact details" and also reminds boaters of their legal obligations.

The full report is available to download as a PDF from the MCIB website HERE.

Published in MCIB

#MCIB - The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has recommended a ministerial review of stability standards for fishing vessels following its report into the death of a crab fisherman off Co Cork in January last year.

Gerry Hegarty drowned after a wave struck the crab boat Carraig An Iasc, which was fully loaded with crab pots at the time, causing it to capsize and sending its two-man crew into the water.

Hegarty, who was not wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) or other buoyancy aid, got into difficulty while attempting to swim ashore with his crewmate and skipper James Fitzgerald, who subsequently raised the alarm.

Lifeboats from Ballycotton and Crosshaven, as well as Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 117, were tasked to the incident. Divers from Naval Service vessel LE Emer located the sunken crab boat but no body was found.

A coastguard search of the area continued over a number of days without success. Hegarty's body was eventually recovered on 17 February 2011 at Ringabella Strand in Co Cork.

The MCIB found it probable that the Carraig An Iasc encountered wind or wave action or a combination of both that caused the vessel to heel to an angle beyond which it was able to recover from its loaded condition. The vessel's Code of Practice Declaration of Compliance was valid until 15 July 2013.

The board noted that there have been "a number of incidents caused by overloading boats thus effecting stability", and recommended that the Minister for Transport reviews and revises the stability standards in the current Code of Practice to improve these standards.

It was also recommended that a safety notice be issued to all skippers and owners in the fishing fleet reminding them of their legal responsibility to ensure that all their crew wear PFDs or lifejackets while on deck.

The full report is available to download as a PDF from the MCIB website HERE.

Published in MCIB

#BUDGET - Coastguard and lifeboat services, mountain rescue and the Commissioners of Irish Lights will not face any further funding cuts in the latest Budget, according to the Minister for Transport.

The Irish Times reports that, following the reduction of his department's budget, Minister Leo Varakdar stated that substantial cuts have already occurred in the maritime safety sector.

Moreover, he announced an increase in the maritime budget from €70.5 million to €80.3 million, due to provisions for the new Irish Coast Guard helicopter contract.

Earlier this week, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney, underlined the importance of the marine sector to Ireland's coastal communities.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Minister Coveney announced a round of expenditure estimates on Monday which include increased funding for investment in processing, aquaculture and fishery harbours.

Published in Budget
The opening this week of a new rail-spur in Dublin Port by Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar T.D.,brings a boost to rail freight competitiveness, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Dublin Port Company invested €1.5m for the 1.6km long rail-spur expansion which links freight-trains directly alongside ships berthed at Ocean Pier. The new facility at the Common User Terminal eliminates the need for loading and unloading trucks at Alexandra Basin East (click MAP)

The minister welcomed "the important investment by Dublin Port Company in its rail network. It will further enhance the attractiveness of the port as a destination for rail-based freight. The project represents a commitment on the part of Dublin Port Company and Iarnród Éireann to customers who want to move goods by rail".

The project took six months to complete and the public private partnership involved Dublin Port Company, Iarnród Éireann and the first customer of the new facility, International Warehousing and Transport (IWT).

IWT is a privately owned Irish logistics company, which already operates freight-trains to Ballina that are expected to increase from 4 to 5 trains per week in each direction as a result of this investment. The rail-operator believes that the service will save up to 5.5million road kilometres annually and reduce CO2 emissions by up to 2,750 tonnes.

The Irish Exporters Association also welcomed the development of the IWT freight operation at the new facility, where increased frequency in services will enhance Ireland's contribution to the European Union's modal shift aspirations from road to rail.

The Common User Terminal is also open to other shipping companies. Existing clients using the lo-lo container terminal operated by Burke Shipping Group through its subsidiary Portroe Stevedores are C2C Lines, APL, Coastal Containers, Evergreen, Gracechurch and OOCL . The terminal also has a ro-ro berth facility where CLdN /Cobelfret operate from on routes to Belgium and The Netherlands. 

In addition to the Dublin-Ballina service the port exports 400,000 tonnes of lead and zinc concentrate from the freight customers Boliden/Tara Mines with 15 trains per week. The facility at Alexandra Basin Jetty is regularly served by vessels from Arklow Shipping Ltd, where the 2011 newbuild Arklow Field (2,998 tonnes) is currently berthed.

Published in Dublin Port
Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Mr. Leo Varadkar T.D. yesterday announced his intention to amalgamate Dundalk port with the capital port, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Minister Varadkar said: 'It is with great regret that I have come to the conclusion that the financial difficulties faced by Dundalk Port Company mean that it no longer has a future as an independent company'.

"In order to ensure the orderly management of the company's affairs, I have decided that the best course of action is to transfer responsibility for the port to Dublin Port Company. I would be hopeful that port activities will continue at Dundalk following the transfer.

He added, once the current difficulties are overcome, it may be the case that Dundalk Port can return to local control, in cooperation with the local authority and private sector operators.

To amalgamate the two port companies a Transfer Order will be made under the Harbours Act 1996. In addition a draft order has to be approved by both Houses of the Oireachtas before being signed into law which is expected to take place within the coming weeks.

The Co. Louth port which is equidistant between Dublin and Belfast, has shown to have a long history as an independent seaport. However the recession has had a significant impact making trading conditions particularly difficult for the company. At its peak in 2006 there were over 220 vessels calling at the port but dropped to just over 60 vessels last year. Figures for 2011 show no signs of improvement.

Vessels of up to 3,500 dwt and 106m in length can be handled at the port's six berths. Unusally for an Irish port vessels can be seen resting on the mudbank subject to the state of the tide. The port is some 8kms from the open sea and is reached along a narrow channel which requires the compulsory use of a pilot.

Published in Ports & Shipping
Minister for Transport and Tourism Dr. Leo Varadkar T.D. has warned that if state-owned ports get into financial difficulties they could become under the control of local authorities, as reported in todays' Irish Independent.
The minister was addressing a conference yesterday hosted by Dublin Port Company which was discussing it master development plans to 2040. He said that his department was assessing whether the government should retain ownership of ports following last month's publication of state assets led by economist Colm McCarthy.

In the report it was noted that there are too many ports and that the sector would benefit from a rationalisation of ownership and management structures. The decision which will be made over the next few months not only concerns the fate of the capital port but also the following state-owned ports: Dun Laoghaire, Waterford, Drogheda, Dundalk, Cork, Shannon Foynes, Wicklow, New Ross and Galway.

Mr Varadkar also warned that state money wouldn't be made available to bolster ports' balance sheets. "Where port companies are not successful, there will no bailouts and there will be no state aid. "It just isn't possible for the Government in the situation it's in to offer that," he said.

"Where smaller ports find themselves unable to continue operations, amalgamations or transfers to local authorities will be the preferred option."

On the issue of selling Dublin Port the company's chief executive Mr. Eamon O'Reilly who has cited previously that the port should not be sold as a private operator would not have the same incentive to invest as they would be focusing on generating returns.

As for the masterplan, he emphasised that the port would need to double its capacity so to handle the expected trade levels by 2040. He conceded the masterplan will cause some controversy but said the port has "great potential" to facilitate economic growth and make Dublin a better city to live in.

Published in Ports & Shipping
At its Annual General Meeting today, Dublin Port Company which operates Ireland's largest port, handling over half of Ireland's trade, announced it will pay a €6.5 million dividend to the State in June 2010 based on its Financial Results for the year ended 31 December 2010 together with a special dividend of €10 million. This will bring the total dividend payments to its shareholder to €36.6 million over the last five years.

At today's AGM the Annual Report for 2010 was presented to the Shareholders in advance of publication later this year after it has been laid before the Oireachtas.

Dublin Port Company also outlined its trading outlook for the remainder of the year after a return to growth in throughput in 2010 following two years of decline in trade. These results showed an increase of 6.1% on the previous year to 28.1 million tonnes which is just 9% lower than the historic high of 30.9 million tonnes in 2007.

Addressing Dublin Port Company's AGM, Ms. Lucy McCaffrey, the company's chairperson, said; "I was pleased to report to our shareholders, the representatives of the Minister for Transport and Minster for Finance, that Dublin Port Company will pay a dividend of €6.5 million in respect of the 2010 financial out-turn along with a payment of a special dividend of €10 million. The €16.5m paid this year will bring total distributions to €36.6 million in a five year period. In addition to paying a dividend to our shareholder we remain committed to investing in the port's infrastructure to ensure that Dublin Port remains the efficient modern competitive port it has become. We recently launched a major consultation exercise with all our stakeholders to create a Masterplan for the future development of Dublin Port to ensure that it can continue to serve the trading needs of the city and country for generations to come."

Speaking about the financial performance of Dublin Port Company for 2010, Dr. Leo Varadkar TD, Minister for Transport said; "I congratulate the company on its strong financial performance for 2010 which has enabled it to pay a further dividend to the State. It is encouraging that the company remains a profitable enterprise which continues to pay a dividend to the State, in line with current Government policy in relation to the commercial State companies. Furthermore, it is encouraging that the financial strength of the company will allow it to invest significantly in the future development without recourse to exchequer funding. This country's return to economic prosperity will be export-led and Irish ports will play an important role in facilitating that trade. In this regard the current Masterplan consultation process the company has embarked on is a timely and necessary exercise in preparing for the future."

Published in Dublin Port
Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney will have the remit for air and sea search and rescue services, it has emerged.
The Irish Times reports that the move is part of a promised consolidation of maritime functions under the new programme for Government.
Responsibilty for the Irish Coast Guard will however remain with Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar until an official transfer which is expected in the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, fellow Fine Gael TD and Minister of State for NewEra, Fergus O'Dowd, intends to push for a review of the State's €500m contract for search and rescue services with CHC Ireland.
O’Dowd said there were “significant questions to answer” over the deal signed by former Transport Minister Noel Dempsey last year.
The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Minister for the Marine Simon Coveney will have the remit for air and sea search and rescue services, it has emerged.

The Irish Times reports that the move is part of a promised consolidation of maritime functions under the new programme for Government.

Responsibilty for the Irish Coast Guard will however remain with Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar until an official transfer which is expected in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, fellow Fine Gael TD and Minister of State for NewEra, Fergus O'Dowd, intends to push for a review of the State's €500m contract for search and rescue services with CHC Ireland.

O’Dowd said there were “significant questions to answer” over the deal signed by former Transport Minister Noel Dempsey last year.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastguard
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