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The Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) of the Marine Institute and Innovate UK hosted a networking reception in Dublin on Monday (15 April) to advance their joint plans to create green shipping corridors between Ireland and the UK.

The event attracted maritime industry stakeholders who are interested in responding to this research call by constructing consortia which can drive progress in this important area of research.

The call is co-funded by the Marine Institute and the UK Department of Transport and will be delivered by the IMDO and Innovate UK.

Minister for Transport, Eamonn Ryan said: “My department welcomes the launch of the joint funding call from Marine Institute, the Irish Maritime Development Office and Innovate UK. This will produce detailed and valuable feasibility studies on green shipping corridors focused on routes across the Irish Sea, between Ireland and the UK.

“The Clydebank Declaration was launched at COP26 in 2021, with Ireland as one of the initial signatories of the initiative. Clydebank was designed to drive forward to the decarbonisation targets set by the International Maritime Organization in relations to green shipping. The launch of this funding call by Marine Institute and Innovate UK represents the first step towards meeting this ambition and demonstrates an innovative and collaborative approach to solving this issue, which I commend.”

Elin Burns, deputy British ambassador to Ireland, also welcomed the research call and said: “The UK and Ireland are delighted to collaborate together to tackle one of the greatest challenges of our time, climate change. The UK has ambitious net-zero targets, and transport continues to be a sector which contributes significantly to emissions.

“Green shipping corridors are key to demonstrating the development of technology, infrastructure and regulations to promote industry adoption of zero-emission technologies. The UK and Ireland’s partnership on this fund recognises our close maritime links across both trade and travel, and demonstrates our commitment to supporting green corridors between our countries.”

The call provides an opportunity for maritime industry stakeholders to consider how consortia might be formed to address the challenges of creating green shipping corridors across the Irish Sea. It also recognises the importance of trading and tourism links between Ireland and the UK and the imperative of reducing carbon emissions in the maritime industry.

Commenting at the launch, IMDO director Liam Lacey said: “We are pleased to be working with Innovate UK, supported by our respective Departments of Transport, on this joint research call that will bring green shipping corridors between Ireland and the UK closer to reality.

“The call is funded by the Marine Institute and UK Department of Transport to a value of €1m. It envisages the creation of consortia of ports, shipping companies and researchers and industry experts to undertake feasibility studies that will result in practical solutions being advanced that put shipping corridors between Ireland and the UK on a pathway to a greener future. This is an ambitious and valuable project that we expect to generate considerable industry interest and lots of innovative ideas.”

James Lovett, innovation lead for future maritime technologies at Innovate UK added: “Innovate UK is proud to be delivering this competition and is delighted to be working with the Marine Institute and the UK Department for Transport.

“These bilateral research collaborations are vital to make green shipping corridors a reality. The required technology and system developments cannot happen in isolation, which is why I’m pleased to see pioneering cooperation between the UK and Ireland. We’re looking forward to seeing the exciting research applications from UK-Ireland maritime industry consortia.”

Published in Ports & Shipping

The Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) will be at the Connecting Europe Days 2024, Europe’s mobility flagship event, held at the Square in Brussels, Belgium.

Representatives from the IMDO will be at stand 49 during the two days of the event between 2-5 April.

This event will be the place to discuss concrete measures and exchange good practices on creating a sustainable, smart and resilient, transport and mobility network in Europe. It will take stock of the ambitious goals set out in the EU Green Deal and the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy.

It will focus on four main topics:
• the launch of the nine new ‘European Transport Corridors’ of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T), which also extend to neighbouring third countries, notably Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova as well as the Western Balkan partners.
• the resilience of the European transport network to the changing climate, by highlighting the devastating impacts of climate change on infrastructure and presenting possible adaptation measures.
• connectivity of our transport network with neighbouring third countries and its preparedness for external threats, by showcasing key initiatives for seamless trade flows such as the “Solidarity Lanes”. We will also exchange on measures to improve infrastructure capacity for military mobility.
• the future of funding and financing opportunities for transport infrastructure projects.

Participants will see state-of-the art innovations first-hand at an exhibition of EU-funded projects. The event is being organised together with the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU.

Published in Ports & Shipping

The latest Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) Unitised Traffic Report for Q4 2023 has been published with an Executive Summary below. As part of the Marine Institute, the IMDO is Irelands' dedicated, development, promotional and marketing office for the shipping and shipping services sectors.

Executive Summary

Overall, unitised volumes, which encompasses both RoRo and LoLo markets, were below trend in Q4 2023, and have stagnated throughout the year. This is not surprising, given the difficult economic environment within which Irish importers and exporters have traded in recent years. However, unitised traffic has also avoided sharp declines. When the recent challenges are considered, the theme of unitised traffic at ports on the island of Ireland instead becomes one of resilience in 2023.

RoRo traffic in Republic of Ireland (ROI) ports declined by 2% in the fourth quarter of 2023, to 289,971 units. When compared to recent years, this represents a subdued performance, as it is the first time in five years that RoRo traffic has failed to surpass 290,000 units in the fourth quarter. In the intervening years (2018 – 2022), fourth quarter RoRo volumes averaged 305,000 units. In Northern Ireland, RoRo volumes grew by 4%, to 222,740 units. On the island of Ireland, RoRo traffic amounted to 512,711 units, or 1% higher than Q4 2022.

The 2% decline in ROI RoRo traffic in Q4 2023 was driven primarily by ROI – GB routes. One of the factors behind this decline was the ending of the P&O service between Dublin and Liverpool, which was announced in August 2023. The service wound down in the final months of the year, meaning comparisons between Dublin – GB traffic in Q4 2023 and 2022 were affected. In December 2023, it was announced that Stena Line will enter this market by adding a service between Dublin and Liverpool that will begin in February 20241. The announcement is reflective of two characteristics of the Irish RoRo market. Firstly, the ability for shipping companies to respond quickly and add capacity at relatively short notice, and secondly, the resilience of demand for ROI – GB services, despite post-Brexit declines.

At port level, volumes were mixed. Dublin Port handled 236,571 units, a decline of 5% versus Q4 2022. In Rosslare Europort however, RoRo volumes grew by 12%. At 51,714 units, this is the highest Q4 volume for Rosslare recorded by the IMDO. As mentioned in previous IMDO reporting in 2023, Rosslare RoRo traffic has benefitted from a shift in demand towards direct (ROI – EU) routes following the end of the Brexit transition period. In 2023, the increase in RoRo traffic at Rosslare was driven by an announcement in late 2022 that a Cork-Zeebrugge service operated by Grimaldi would move to Rosslare Europort. Finnlines, a Finnish shipping company that is part of the Grimaldi Group, now operates the service from Rosslare. In February 2023, Finnlines announced that a second vessel will be added to this route from Rosslare.

In the LoLo market, traffic at ROI ports rose by 5% in Q4 2023, to 278,850 TEU’s. In Northern Ireland, volumes grew by 4% through Belfast, and for the island of Ireland, TEU volumes grew by 5%.

The 5% growth recorded in LoLo traffic in Q4 is a welcome development, as it brings to an end four consecutive quarters of steep annual declines, during which time LoLo traffic declined by an average of 8% per quarter. However, the volumes handled this quarter at ROI ports still represent an underperformance. Throughout 2021 and 2022, LoLo volumes averaged above 290,000 TEU’s per quarter.

Overall, unitised (container) volumes, which encompasses both RoRo and LoLo markets, were below trend in Q4 2023, and have stagnated throughout the year. This is not surprising, given the difficult economic environment within which Irish importers and exporters have traded in recent years. Sharp increases in inflation, rising interest rates, and sluggish global growth have suppressed unitised traffic, beginning in the latter half of 2022. However, unitised traffic has also avoided sharp declines, holding onto much of the gains made during the COVID-19 related surge in trade. When the recent challenges are considered, the theme of unitised traffic at ports on the island of Ireland instead becomes one of resilience in 2023.

To consult the IMDO report in full, click here. 

Published in Ports & Shipping

The Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) has released its Unitised Traffic Report for the third quarter of 2023.

The volume of RoRo traffic at Republic of Ireland ports declined by 2% to 291,879 units in the third quarter of 2023 when compared to the same period in 2022. Traffic to ports in Great Britain and ports in mainland Europe both fell by 2% each. All three Irish (RoRo) ports – Dublin, Cork and Rosslare Europort – recorded a decline this quarter. For RoRo traffic, July and August are relatively quiet months, as the holiday season is in full force. September however, is a busy month, with volumes typically 3% above average as preparations begin for the pre-Christmas period. In September 2023, volumes declined by 5% when compared to 2022.

In all, the volumes recorded in Q3 2023 are slightly below trend for the Irish RoRo market, whereby the long term trajectory of volumes are roughly 300,000 units per quarter. Passing 1.2m RoRo units for the full year, as was achieved in 2022, is now unlikely, but shipping operators and ports will be hopeful that the busy months of October and November can recoup some of the losses from this year.

In the LoLo market, traffic declined by 6% to 277,60 TEU’s. For each of the three Irish LoLo ports - Dublin, Cork and Waterford - this is the lowest third quarter performance of the post-Brexit era . The long term trajectory of Irish LoLo traffic is between 290,000 – 295,000 TEU’s per quarter. The latter half of 2022 and the first three quarters of 2023 has been a difficult period for this sector, with volumes generally below trend.

In Northern Ireland, RoRo traffic performed strongly in Q3 2023, as volumes rose by 3%. In the LoLo sector, traffic was roughly equivalent to Q3 2022. This is a resilient performance from Northern Irish ports in the face of difficult economic headwinds.

For Irish unitised traffic (i.e. RoRo and LoLo), the predominant factor driving declines in 2023 has been high inflation and interest rates, coupled with heightened geopolitical uncertainty. Higher prices, higher borrowing costs, and greater uncertainty serve to suppress demand for finished products such as those transported by the unitised shipping sector.

Irish unitised traffic is sensitive to domestic demand indicators such as Irish consumption levels, GDP and modified domestic demand. On all three measures, the outlook is positive for 2024 in Ireland, as the Central Bank predicts increases of more than 2%. Internationally, the outlook is mixed. The IMF recently described the global economic outlook as ‘stable but slow’, with global growth expected to fall from 3.5% to 3% in 2023, and 2.9% in 2024.

This characterization by the IMF is reflective of the performance of the global container market, a useful bellwether for the global economic outlook. Clarkson’s Research predicts European container exports to both Asia and North America to decline in 2023 by 6% and 10% respectively in 2023. Intra-regional container trade in Europe is expected to decline by 6%. These indicators are highly relevant to Irish ports, as this global containership network is essential for Irish importers and exporters to access international markets.

Overall, resilient domestic demand is offsetting difficult global economic conditions. Irish ports have recorded declines in Q3 2023, but have held on to the gains made in recent years, avoiding steep declines in traffic.

To read the full Unitised Traffic Report Q3 2023, click the attachment below.

As the majority of LoLo routes in Ireland are direct to mainland EU ports, Brexit had a significant and positive effect on container volumes, beginning in early 2021.

Published in Ports & Shipping

Volumes handled by the Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) and Lift-on/Lift-off (LoLo) cargo modes at Irish ports declined significantly in the first six months of 2023, according to a new report from the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO).

When compared to the first half of 2022, RoRo volumes fell by 3%, equivalent to 20,000 fewer RoRo units. LoLo traffic fell by 9%, or 55,000 TEU’s, over the same period.

The IMDO says the predominant driver of these declines has been inflation, which has risen considerably both at home and abroad over the last 18 months.

Beginning with a rapid rise in energy costs in early 2022, the cost of transporting goods, and the cost of goods themselves, has risen sharply. This has suppressed trade at Irish ports, with traffic on almost all routes declining to some degree.

In the RoRo market, volumes in Q1 and Q2 declined by 4% and 3% respectively. Volumes in both quarters were below the long -term trend for the sector, the benchmark for which is approximately 300,000 units per quarter. When seasonally adjusted, RoRo traffic declined on a quarterly basis in four of the last five quarters.

Rosslare-Europort was the only port to record an increase compared to 2022. This was driven by an announcement in late 2022 that a Cork-Zeebrugge service operated by Grimaldi would move to Rosslare Europort. Finnlines, a Finnish shipping company that is part of the Grimaldi Group, now operates the service from Rosslare.

The breakdown in RoRo traffic between ports in mainland Great Britain (ROI–GB) and ports in mainland Europe (ROI–EU) has now exhibited the same post-Brexit trends for ten consecutive quarters. ROI–EU, or direct, RoRo traffic continues to represent one in three RoRo units, compared to one in three prior to January 2021. As a result, there is no immediate sign of a return to the pre-Brexit makeup of the Irish RoRo freight market.

In the LoLo market, volumes in Q1 and Q2 declined by 7% and 11% respectively. The declines in LoLo traffic were also reflected at an international level. Global seaborne trade indicators for container traffic exhibited sharp declines, particularly in the early months of 2023, a trend that was mirrored at Irish ports.

Overall, the volumes recorded in the unitised freight market at Irish ports in the first half of 2023 were sluggish, below trend, and reflective of the suppressive effect inflation has had on international trade volumes.

However, there are several reasons to be optimistic about the near future for Irish maritime traffic, the IMDO adds.

Firstly, inflation has begun to ease across the EU. In Ireland, the inflation rate in July was 4.6%, its lowest level since September 2021. Secondly, according to latest Central Bank reports, domestic growth in Ireland remains robust and is higher than what was expected earlier in the year. Unemployment is extremely low, and this is creating resilience within the economy.

Abroad, EU growth is subdued, while US growth is improving. Both are also buoyed by high employment levels. Most importantly, global inflation rates are easing.

In all, there are positive signals that the declines recorded at Irish ports may be temporary, and that the worst period may have passed, the IMDO says, as it emphasises that “there is a resilience in the Irish maritime freight market”—demonstrated by the response to disruption from both Brexit and the pandemic—“that is essential to overcoming economic headwinds such as these”.

The Unitised Traffic Report Q1 & Q2 2023 is attached below.

Published in Irish Ports
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The Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) has released it Unitised Traffic Report for Q4 2022 (see attachment) and an Executive Summary as outlined below.

The fourth quarter of 2022 was defined by a slowdown in unitised traffic on the island of Ireland, as global inflationary pressures finally began to affect the volume of merchandise goods handled at ports. RoRo and LoLo traffic in Ireland and Northern Ireland declined on an annual basis, pausing momentum that had been built in the first half of 2022.

Roll-On Roll-Off (RoRo) Market

RoRo traffic at Republic of Ireland ports declined by 3% year on year in the fourth quarter of 2022. Due to the disruptive effects of COVID-19 and Brexit throughout 2020 and 2021, 2019 is an effective benchmark to compare 2022 volumes. Q4 2022 recorded just over 295,000 RoRo units, an almost identical total to that handled in Q4 2019. Despite its close comparison with 2019 levels, the volume of RoRo traffic recorded in Q4 2022 represents a relatively underwhelming performance for the sector. Even with the spikes in traffic volumes throughout the COVID-19 and Brexit period, a growing RoRo sector in Ireland would expect to average approximately 300,000 – 305,000 units per quarter. In the first half of 2022, such volumes were evident and signs were positive. In the latter half of 2022 however, the negative economic headwinds, predominantly inflation, began to show, and the sector failed to surpass 300,000 units in both Q3 and Q4.

However, despite the recent slowdown in traffic volumes, the gains made in the first half of the year were enough to ensure 2022 was still a record year for RoRo traffic in Ireland. RoRo traffic surpassed 1.2 million units for the first time, above the previous peak of 1.19m units reached in 2019.

Prior to Brexit, the RoRo sector was comprised of roughly 1 million units on ROI – GB routes, and 200,000 on direct EU routes. In 2022, it is comprised of roughly 800,000 ROI – GB units, and 400,000 direct EU units. The shift has been driven by post-Brexit trading arrangements. Post-Brexit, traffic on ROI – GB routes has declined significantly, while traffic on ROI – EU routes has doubled. In short, this has been drive by the following three main factors; the decline in the use of the UK Landbridge, a decline in Northern Irish importers and exporters using ROI – GB routes as a means of accessing southern UK markets, and the relocation of some large retail warehouses from central UK to mainland Europe.

In the two years that have now passed since the new Brexit arrangements came into effect, this shift has remained remarkably consistent. From the early months of 2021, ROI – EU traffic has consistently represented one in every three RoRo units in Irish ports, with little deviation throughout. Similarly, traffic on ROI – GB routes has consistently been 20% below its 2019 benchmark, with little sign of a swift return to those volumes. RoRo traffic on both GB and EU routes fell by 3% in Q4 2022, a reflection of the global economic environment, rather than any shift in post-Brexit market composition.

In all, surpassing 1.2 million units is an important milestone for the RoRo sector, as it would likely have been achieved before 2022 had the negative effects of the first wave of COVID-19 in 2020, or the Brexit stockpiling effects in early 2021, not occurred. 2022 therefore represents a return to the momentum built up in the rapid period of growth in Irish maritime traffic recorded between 2014 and 2019. In addition, it once again highlights the resilience of this sector of the Irish economy to exhibit a reliability throughout difficult economic periods.

Load-On/Load-Off (LoLo) Market

In the fourth quarter of 2022, LoLo traffic at Irish ports declined by 8% on an annual basis. This equates to a loss of 22,501 TEU’s. At 265,506 TEU’s, this is the lowest quarterly LoLo total for Irish ports since Q2 2020, during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to Brexit, LoLo traffic in Ireland peaked in 2019, recording 1.06m TEU’s in that year, and averaging approximately 265,000 TEUs per quarter. In 2021, this average rose to 294,000 TEUs a quarter. In the first three quarters of 2022, further gains were made, as LoLo traffic averaged roughly 297,000 TEUs per quarter.

The drivers of these increases in 2021 and 2022 are the same as those that drove a surge in ROI – EU RoRo traffic; a decline in the use of the UK Landbridge and the relocation of some large retail warehouses from central UK to mainland Europe. Approximately 85% of LoLo traffic from Irish ports is to / from ports in Belgium and The Netherlands, particularly large European transport hubs such as Rotterdam or Antwerp. LoLo traffic has therefore been well placed to benefit from increased demand for direct access to such ports.

The decline in Q4 2022 to levels similar to those recorded in 2019 interrupts the post-Brexit momentum built up since the first quarter of 2021. The cause of this decline is most likely due to the inflationary pressures in large global economies with whom Ireland frequently uses LoLo vessels to trade with.

In Section 2, Figure 3 illustrates how the level of inflation in 2022 for goods only, a more relevant measure for the unitised trade sector, has outpaced headline inflation for all items, which include services. In addition, Figure 4 shows a steep decline in international freight rates for containerships vessels. This illustrates that the demand for capacity has fallen as inflation has taken hold, and that this is not a phenomenon isolated to the Irish economy.

Published in Ports & Shipping

The IMDO and the Department of Transport recently hosted a port director's training programme in Dublin.

This one-day training took place on last Tuesday 18 October in The Alex Hotel in Dublin city centre and was aimed at promoting the highest standards of corporate governance.

The programme differed from mainstream training for directors as it maintained a port-centric focus and an emphasis on best practice in corporate governance standards.

In summary, the training aimed to:

  • familiarise directors with the particular circumstances and conditions prevailing within the ports industry in Ireland and the objectives and responsibilities set for port companies under the National Ports Policy;
  • inform directors regarding their responsibilities and duties as company directors and the particular responsibilities that are associated with State boards;
  • describe the different sides of governance, using case examples;
  • facilitate an interactive approach that will stimulate discussion around the particular issues facing the directors of port companies; and
  • identify the contribution that ports make to the Irish economy and the need for strong and open competition within the sector.
Published in Ports & Shipping
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The Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) has published its Q2, 2022 Unitised Traffic Report with an executive summary below.

In addition to consult the full report, see attachment.

Executive Summary

At the midway stage in 2022, unitised traffic volumes - made up of finished goods such as food, clothing and manufactured products - are performing strongly.

In the Roll – On / Roll – Off (RoRo) market, Dublin Port, Rosslare Europort and the Port of Cork handled a combined total of more than 600,000 units in the first half of the year. This represents 2% growth on 2019, or pre-pandemic, volumes, and means that the RoRo market is now on track to surpass 1.2 million units in 2022, a record annual total.

In the Lift – On / Lift – Off (container) market, traffic volumes are currently at record levels. Dublin Port, the Port of Cork and the Port of Waterford handled 595,000 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEU’s) in the first half of 2022. This represents 11% growth compared to 2019, or pre-pandemic levels, and 1% growth from 2021. The second quarter of 2022 recorded a total volume of over 311,000 TEU’s, the highest quarterly total on record. Like the RoRo market, the LoLo market is also on course to record 1.2m TEU’s in 2022, surpassing the annual record set in 2021 of 1.18m TEU’s.

Following the end of the Brexit transition period on January 1st 2021, the IMDO reported on the significant impact this event had on the structure of the unitised freight market on the island of Ireland. Eighteen months into the post-Brexit era, these impacts remain unchanged. The following paragraphs encompass the main shifts that have occurred in unitised freight markets in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Direct Demand

The demand from Irish importers and exporters for RoRo services on direct routes between a port in the Republic of Ireland and a mainland European port (e.g. Cherbourg, Rotterdam) rose dramatically. In 2021, the volume of RoRo traffic on these direct services rose by an unprecedented 94%, from 198,000 units per year, to 383,000. This trend has continued into 2022. One in three RoRo units now travels on a direct route between Ireland and a mainland European port, compared to approximately one in six pre-Brexit.

Since the end of the Brexit transition period, RoRo operators have responded to this demand by introducing unprecedented levels of capacity on direct routes. Incumbents announced increases in fleet size, vessel capacity, as well as intensification of existing schedules. In addition, several new routes were introduced.
The momentum behind this increase in direct capacity has also continued into 2022. In July, Finnlines, a subsidiary of the Grimaldi group, launched a new RoRo route between Rosslare and Zeebrugge. This investment by another new entrant to the Irish RoRo market reemphasizes the persistent nature of this ‘direct demand.’

Intra – Modal Competition

In the LoLo market, the majority of services from ports in the Republic of Ireland are already on direct routes to mainland European ports, such as Rotterdam and Antwerp. Like RoRo operators, LoLo operators have therefore benefitted from the post-Brexit increase in demand from Irish importers and exporters to access EU ports directly, without the need to adhere to new customs requirements at UK ports.

As a result of this change in demand from Irish importers and exporters, intra-modal competition within the unitised freight market (i.e. RoRo Vs LoLo) has increased significantly post-Brexit. Services offered by both operators can be effective substitutes for one another, providing access to central European shipping hubs, meaning operators in both markets compete for similar business.

Loss of Landbridge

Beginning in early 2021, the IMDO has documented the significant declines in RoRo traffic between ports in the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain (i.e. ROI – GB). This traffic has consistently been between 15% and 20% below pre-Brexit levels, and this remains unchanged in 2022. This has been driven by the following three factors.

First, a decline in the demand from Irish importers and exporters to make us of the UK road and ports network as a means to access markets in mainland Europe, a route commonly known and the UK Landbridge. This has been the predominant cause of the decline in ROI – GB traffic. This UK Landridge traffic has, in large part, moved to the direct EU services described above.

Second, a decline in the demand of Northern Irish importers and exporters to make use short sea RoRo services between Republic of Ireland ports and UK ports, particularly Dublin Port, as a means of accessing markets in Southern England and Wales. This can be referred to as the Irish Landbridge. This Irish Landbridge traffic has moved to RoRo services between Northern Irish ports and ports in Great Britain, (i.e. NI – GB), driving record volumes on these routes, and causing further losses for Irish port traffic.

Lastly, the relocation of distribution hubs from Great Britain to mainland European countries has amplified the reduction in ROI – GB traffic. Following the end of the Brexit transition period, several large retail companies with Irish stores have relocated distribution warehouses from areas such as southern England, to areas such as northern France and the Benelux region.

In all of the cases described, the imposition of customs declarations and customs checks on trade between the EU and the UK has underscored these shifts in Irish freight traffic patterns.


The IMDO has noted in previous reporting that Brexit has fundamentally altered the composition of Irish maritime freight traffic. At the midway point in 2022, this remains the case. Direct demand in RoRo and LoLo markets is at record levels, with more new RoRo routes added in the second quarter of 2022. Roro traffic on GB routes continues to record declines of between 15% and 20%, with no immediate signs of a return of Northern Irish traffic or UK Landbridge traffic to pre-Brexit levels at Irish ports.

Overall, unitised freight traffic in Ireland is strong, given the many challenges faced over the past two years. However, economic headwinds such as inflation, high energy costs, elevated containership freight rates, and persistent port congestion at major hubs have meant that the outlook for global seaborne trade is increasingly negative. Despite the extremely high levels of uncertainty, the Irish maritime sector has, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, proven its considerable resilience and adaptability to changing global circumstances. These characteristics may be required again in the latter half of 2022.

Published in Ports & Shipping

The Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) has published its Unitised Traffic Report for Q1, 2022 with an executive summary below in addition to a full report, see attachment.


RoRo traffic in the first quarter of 2022 grew by 18% when compared to Q1 2021. This rise was expected, as a significant pre-Brexit stockpile, coupled with COVID-19 lockdown measures, suppressed traffic volumes in Q1 2021. When compared to Q1 2020, traffic is 4% higher in 2022. At 296,000 RoRo units, this is a robust performance for the sector that is in line with 2019 volumes, a year which recorded the highest annual total on record.

The increase this quarter was driven by traffic on ROI – GB routes, which rose by 22%. It was on GB routes where the pre-Brexit stockpiling effect in early 2021 was most concentrated. GB traffic through Dublin Port rose by 24% year-on-year, while GB traffic through Rosslare Europort rose by 4%. However, ROI – GB traffic remains approximately 20% below pre-Brexit levels, with no imminent sign of a rapid return to such levels.

ROI – EU RoRo traffic has held on to the remarkable gains made throughout 2021. ROI – EU traffic rose by 10% when compared to Q1 2021. Again, this was expected given the unusually low volumes recorded in early 2021. There were significant COVID-19 economic restrictions in place during that period. As with previous waves of economic restrictions in 2020, a decline in maritime traffic followed.

Elsewhere in the Irish RoRo market, it should be noted also that RoRo traffic at the Port of Cork is performing strongly, with the addition of two new services in 2021 now showing up in traffic handled. Overall, both ROI – GB and ROI – EU traffic have recorded volumes that are in line with those handled throughout 2021. As a result, the post-Brexit makeup of Irish RoRo traffic remains unaltered.

In Northern Ireland, RoRo traffic in Q1 2022 is in line with Q1 2021, recorded 0% growth. However, this is roughly 6% below the average quarterly volume recorded in Northern Irish ports throughout 2021, wherein record volumes were handled. The disruption caused by P&O ferries restructuring in March 2022 led to the loss of traffic at the port of Larne, and this explains much of this decline.


As highlighted in the latest volume of the Irish Maritime Transport Economist, LoLo traffic through Irish ports have also benefitted from post-Brexit demand for direct services to mainland Europe. Record volumes of LoLo TEUs were handled in 2021. In Q1 2022, LoLo traffic through ROI ports is 1% higher than the same period in 2021.

By pre-Brexit measures, the ROI volume of 284,058 TEUs is a record-breaking total. The highest quarterly volume of LoLo traffic recorded before the end of the Brexit transition period was just over 280,000 TEUs. By post-Brexit measures, however, this quarterly total represents a relatively subdued performance. The average quarterly volume of TEUs recorded through ROI ports in 2021 was just over 293,000 TEUs. The volume in Q1 2022 is 3% below this average. This is also the case for LoLo traffic at Northern Ireland ports. The post-Brexit quarterly average through Belfast Harbour and Warrenpoint was 64,500 TEUs. The volume in Q1 2022 is 4% below this average.

This loss of momentum in LoLo traffic is reflective of the increasing cost of container freight rates, which have risen sharply since mid-2021. Charter rates for feeder containership vessels rose by a factor of six between Q1 2019 and Q1 2022. Such dramatic increases in freight rates were caused by a combination of port congestion at major hubs, disruption to the supply lines of new vessels, and changes in global consumption patterns since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.


When compared to Q1 2021, a period of significant travel restrictions, maritime passenger traffic in Q1 2022 rose by more than 200%. 210,000 passengers transited through Dublin, Cork and Rosslare on ferry services, almost 150,000 more than the same period in 2021. However, this remains 31%, or roughly 95,000 passengers, fewer than Q1 2019. The return to pre-pandemic passenger volumes has therefore yet to be reached.

In Northern Ireland, passenger volumes have made a full return to pre-pandemic levels. In Q1 2022 passenger numbers at Belfast and Larne were 102% higher than in the same period in Q1 2021. They are now 35% higher than 2020, and 17% higher than in Q1 2019.

Published in Ports & Shipping

The 19th and latest edition of the Irish Maritime Transport Economist, a report produced by the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) on Ireland’s maritime freight industry, has been published today (Monday 23 May) and makes for encouraging reading for the ports and shipping sector.

This edition reports on 2021, a year marked by the reorganisation of Irish supply chains following the end of the Brexit transition period, and a rebounding of demand in port traffic as COVID-19 restrictions were gradually eased.

The year under review was one of significant change in the RoRo freight market. With the end of the Brexit transition period came a surge in the demand for services on direct routes between Irish ports and mainland European ports.

RoRo traffic on these services rose by 94% compared to 2020. This demand was driven largely by a reduction in the use of the UK Landbridge. RoRo traffic to ports in Great Britain declined by 22% as a result of the shift in Landbridge traffic and also the redirection of Northern Irish traffic from ports in the Republic of Ireland to services through Belfast, Larne and Warrenpoint.

Direct EU traffic now represents one third of all RoRo volume, compared to 17% in recent years. In addition, LoLo traffic, the majority of which moves on direct routes to mainland Europe, increased to record levels, growing by 11% to just under 1.2m TEU’s.

Last year was also one of resurgent demand for Irish port traffic, as COVID-19 restrictions were gradually lifted and economic activity began its return towards pre-pandemic levels.

Break bulk traffic, made up largely of construction materials, rose significantly as Ireland’s construction industry regained momentum. Liquid bulk volumes increased gradually throughout the year and by the fourth quarter, were back at 2019 volumes.

In the RoRo passenger sector, numbers began to rise rapidly following the introduction of the EU’s Digital COVID Certificate which facilitated a return to international travel. 

And in the RoRo market, the number of weekly sailings to mainland European ports rose from 30 sailings per week to more than 60 at different points throughout the year. Two new entrants arrived into the RoRo market in 2021, such that now there are six shipping companies offering 13 different direct RoRo services to mainland EU ports, increasing capacity in what is a dynamic and competitive market. 

Commenting on the 19th edition of the IMTE, Hildegarde Naughton, Minister of State for International and Road Transport and Logistics, said: “I commend all stakeholders who contributed to the Brexit response and would like to express my appreciation for their efforts in maintaining Ireland’s connectivity to both GB and European markets.

“Ireland’s maritime industry was instrumental in maintaining a strong, connected economy throughout the monumental challenges of Brexit and COVID-19. I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the ports and shipping sectors and express my thanks for the invaluable services they provide.”

Liam Lacey, director of the IMDO, commented on the year ahead: “There are many reasons to be positive about the future of the Irish shipping industry. Demand is expected to rise further in 2022 as the effects of COVID-19 dissipate, and the period of greatest Brexit-related uncertainty passes.

“However, many new challenges lie ahead. The IMDO will continue to monitor these closely and report on the impacts for the Irish maritime industry.”

The Irish Maritime Transport Economist, Volume 19 is available to read and download on the IMDO website HERE.

Published in Ports & Shipping
Page 1 of 8

Port of Cork Information

The Port of Cork is the key seaport in the south of Ireland and is one of only two Irish ports which service the requirements of all six shipping modes i.e., Lift-on Lift-off, Roll-on Roll-off, Liquid Bulk, Dry Bulk, Break Bulk and Cruise. Due to its favourable location on the south coast of Ireland and its modern deep-water facilities, the Port of Cork is ideally positioned for additional European trading as well as for yet unexploited direct deep-sea shipping services.

The Port of Cork is investing €80 million in a container terminal development in Ringaskiddy. The Cork Container Terminal will initially offer a 360-metre quay with 13-metre depth alongside and will enable larger ships to berth in the port. The development also includes the construction of a 13.5-hectare terminal and associated buildings as well as two ship to shore gantry cranes and container handling equipment.

The development of new container handling facilities at Ringaskiddy was identified in the Port of Cork’s Strategic Development Plan in 2010. It will accommodate current and future container shipping which can be serviced by modern and efficient cargo handling equipment with innovative terminal operating and vehicle booking systems. The Port of Cork anticipates that Cork Container Terminal will be operational in 2020.

The Port of Cork is the key seaport in the south of Ireland and is one of just two Irish ports which service the requirements of all shipping modes.

The Port of Cork also controls Bantry Bay Port Company and employs 150 people across all locations.

A European Designated Core Port and a Tier 1 Port of National Significance, Port of Cork’s reputation for quality service, including prompt and efficient vessel turnaround as well as the company’s investment in future growth, ensures its position as a vital link in the global supply chain.

The port has made impressive strides in recent decades, most recently with the construction of the new €80m Cork Container Terminal in Ringaskiddy which will facilitate the natural progression of the move from a river port to a deepwater port in order to future proof the Port
of Cork. This state-of-the-art terminal which will open in 2020 will be capable of berthing the largest container ships currently calling to Ireland.

The Port of Cork Company is a commercial semi-state company responsible for the commercial running of the harbour as well as responsibility for navigation and berthage in the port.  The Port is the main port serving the South of Ireland, County Cork and Cork City. 

Types of Shipping Using Port of Cork

The Port offers all six shipping modes from Lift-on Lift-off, Roll-on Roll-off, Liquid Bulk, Dry Bulk, Break Bulk and Cruise liner traffic.

Port of Cork Growth

The port has made impressive strides in recent decades. Since 2000, the Port of Cork has invested €72 million in improving Port infrastructure and facilities. Due to its favourable location and its modern deepwater facilities, the Port is ideally positioned for additional European trading as well as for yet unexploited direct deep-sea shipping services. A well-developed road infrastructure eases the flow of traffic from and to the port. The Port of Cork’s growing reputation for quality service, including prompt and efficient vessel turnaround, ensures its position as a vital link in the global supply chain. The Port of Cork Company turnover in 2018 amounted to €35.4 million, an increase of €3.9 million from €31.5 million in 2017. The combined traffic of both the Ports of Cork and Bantry increased to 10.66 million tonnes in 2018 up from 10.3 million tonnes in 2017.

History of Port of Cork

Famous at the last port of call of the Titanic, these medieval navigation and port facilities of the city and harbour were historically managed by the Cork Harbour Commissioners. Founded in 1814, the Cork Harbour Commissioners moved to the Custom House in 1904.  Following the implementation of the 1996 Harbours Act, by March 1997 all assets of the Commissioners were transferred to the Port of Cork Company.

Commercial Traffic at Port of Cork

Vessels up to 90,000 tonnes deadweight (DWT) are capable of coming through entrance to Cork Harbour. As the shipping channels get shallower the farther inland one travels, access becomes constricted, and only vessels up to 60,000 DWT can sail above Cobh. The Port of Cork provides pilotage and towage facilities for vessels entering Cork Harbour. All vessels accessing the quays in Cork City must be piloted and all vessels exceeding 130 metres in length must be piloted once they pass within 2.5 nautical miles (4.6 km) of the harbour entrance.

Berthing Facilities in Cork Harbour

The Port of Cork has berthing facilities at Cork City, Tivoli, Cobh and Ringaskiddy. The facilities in Cork City are primarily used for grain and oil transport. Tivoli provides container handling, facilities for oil, livestock and ore and a roll on-roll off (Ro-Ro) ramp. Prior to the opening of Ringaskiddy Ferry Port, car ferries sailed from here; now, the Ro-Ro ramp is used by companies importing cars into Ireland. In addition to the ferry terminal, Ringaskiddy has a deep water port.

Port of Cork Development Plans

2020 will be a significant year for the Port of Cork as it prepares to complete and open the €86 million Cork Container Terminal development in Ringaskiddy.

Once operational the new terminal will enable the port to handle up to 450,000 TEU per annum. Port of Cork already possess significant natural depth in Cork harbour, and the work in Ringaskiddy Port will enable the Port of Cork to accommodate vessels of 5500 to 6000 TEU, which will provide a great deal of additional potential for increasing container traffic.

It follows a previous plan hatched in 2006 as the port operated at full capacity the Port drew up plans for a new container facility at Ringaskiddy. This was the subject of major objections and after an Oral Planning Hearing was held in 2008 the Irish planning board Bord Pleanala rejected the plan due to inadequate rail and road links at the location.  

Further notable sustainability projects also include:

  • The Port of Cork have invested in 2 x STS cranes – Type single lift, Model P (148) L, (WS) Super. These cranes contain the most modern and energy-efficient control and monitoring systems currently available on the market and include an LED floodlight system equipped with software to facilitate remote diagnostics, a Crane Management System (CMS) and an energy chain supply on both cranes replacing the previous preferred festoon cabling installation.
  • The Port of Cork has installed High Mast Lighting Voltage Control Units at its two main cargo handling locations – Tivoli Industrial & Dock Estate and Ringaskiddy Deep-water & Ferry Terminals. This investment has led to more efficient energy use and reduced risk of light pollution. The lights can also be controlled remotely.
  • The Port of Cork’s largest electrical consumer at Tivoli Container Terminal is the handling and storage of refrigerated containers. Local data loggers were used to assess energy consumption. This provided timely intervention regarding Power Factor Correction Bank efficiency on our STS (Ship to Shore) Cranes and Substations, allowing for reduced mains demand and reducing wattless energy losses along with excess charges. The information gathered has helped us to design and build a reefer storage facility with energy management and remote monitoring included.

Bantry Port

In 2017 Bantry Bay Port Company completed a significant investment of €8.5 million in the Bantry Inner Harbour development. The development consisted of a leisure marina, widening of the town pier, dredging of the inner harbour and creation of a foreshore amenity space.

Port of Cork Cruise Liner Traffic

2019 was a record cruise season for the Port of Cork with 100 cruise liners visiting. In total over 243,000 passengers and crew visited the region with many passengers visiting Cork for the first time.

Also in 2019, the Port of Cork's Cruise line berth in Cobh was recognised as one of the best cruise destinations in the world, winning in the Top-Rated British Isles & Western Europe Cruise Destination category. 

There has been an increase in cruise ship visits to Cork Harbour in the early 21st century, with 53 such ships visiting the port in 2011, increasing to approximately 100 cruise ship visits by 2019.

These cruise ships berth at the Port of Cork's deepwater quay in Cobh, which is Ireland's only dedicated berth for cruise ships.

Passenger Ferries

Operating since the late 1970s, Brittany Ferries runs a ferry service to Roscoff in France. This operates between April and November from the Ro-Ro facilities at Ringaskiddy. Previous ferry services ran to Swansea in Wales and Santander in Spain. The former, the Swansea Cork ferry, ran initially between 1987 and 2006 and also briefly between 2010 and 2012.

The latter, a Brittany Ferries Cork–Santander service, started in 2018 but was cancelled in early 2020.

Marine Leisure

The Port of Cork has a strategy that aims to promote the harbour also as a leisure amenity. Cork’s superb natural harbour is a great place to enjoy all types of marine leisure pursuits. With lots of sailing and rowing clubs dotted throughout the harbour, excellent fishing and picturesque harbour-side paths for walking, running or cycling, there is something for everyone to enjoy in and around Cork harbour. The Port is actively involved with the promotion of Cork Harbour's annual Festival. The oldest sailing club in the world, founded in 1720, is the Royal Cork Yacht Club is located at Crosshaven in the harbour, proof positive, says the Port, that the people of Cork, and its visitors, have been enjoying this vast natural leisure resource for centuries. 

Port of Cork Executives

  • Chairman: John Mullins
  • Chief Executive: Brendan Keating
  • Secretary/Chief Finance Officer: Donal Crowley
  • Harbour Master and Chief Operations Officer: Capt. Paul O'Regan
  • Port Engineering Manager: Henry Kingston
  • Chief Commercial Officer: Conor Mowlds
  • Head of Human Resources: Peter O'Shaughnessy