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The debate about the future form of Dublin Port moved up a gear or two in mid-February with the revelation of the existence of the Docklands Business Forum, and its enthusiasm for moving the working docks elsewhere. With 200 or so members, and more than a few of them from the heavy hitters among the docklands-headquartered global hi-tech communications companies, it has all the makings of a nice little earner, coming complete with a Chief Executive and supportive quotes from some universally-recognised corporate names.

Fair play to all involved, it seems to have struck a viable chord at a time when marketable new business ideas are strenuously sought. That said, knowing the hidden difficulties of a mega-project like port re-location (particularly in the constrained circumstances of the East Coast of Ireland), we can’t help but wonder if it’s just an attractive and marketable idea rather than a viable concept.

Major ports are three-dimensional entities, and the most important dimension is the one you can’t see – the depth of the water. Yet most of mankind tends to see the sea as no more than a watery surface. Thus this new movement’s current central theme is slightly reminiscent of the Boris Bridge across the North Channel, whose proponents argued that as the shortest sensible distance – between Donaghadee in Ireland and Portpatrick in Scotland – is only 19 miles, then it should be perfectly possible to build a bridge, as there already is a 37-mile long bridge in China.

But as it happens, many miles of the Chinese Bridge were built across water so shallow it could have been a causeway. Making it an impressive bridge was something of a vanity project. By contrast, where the tide-riven storm-tossed North Channel isn’t already quite deep, it is instead very deep indeed, with those ultra-depths filled with dumped World War II explosives for an added construction challenge.

Dublin Port’s situation is – in the broadest sense – unique, and it has to find its own solutions instead of expecting to draw on “international best practice”.Dublin Port’s situation is – in the broadest sense – unique, and it has to find its own solutions instead of expecting to draw on “international best practice”

So the idea was quietly discarded (after a Feasibility Study costing more than €1 million), and those attracted to grandiose infrastructural projects will probably have turned their attention elsewhere, such as towards the Let’s Cover Ireland With An Astrodome Movement, or the Dublin Airport Should Be Underground Project.

But enough of that. Let’s be clear that in Dublin, the Docklands Business Forum is putting forward serious ideas in promoting the re-location of Dublin Port’s activities regardless of the problem of depth requirement elsewhere, and the Forum is doing so in the genuine belief that their ideas will improve and enhance the city’s waterfront environment.

If implemented, their ideas would certainly improve and enhance the already large collection of fine old banknotes held by certain high-profile property developers. But we’ll set that aside for now, and respect the fact that despite the highly-regarded skill with which Dublin Port is managed within its constrained activities space, powerful spokesmen for the DBF demand that Dublin follow “international best practice” elsewhere, and move the port, even if it involves the dispersing of its activities to several locations.

By so doing, they argue, space would be created in the former docklands estate to build much-needed accommodation for their expanding staff. Occasionally the word “housing” comes in, but it’s difficult to escape the feeling that they’re talking of apartment blocks, and in Ireland apartment blocks aren’t housing, let alone homes - they’re flats, which are fine for couples, but few families like them.

Dublin Port have already identified Bremore north of Balbriggan as the best possible location for an alternative port, but to function successfully its construction would have to be a “mega-project” of incalculable expense, unjustifiable for the foreseeable future.Dublin Port have already identified Bremore north of Balbriggan as the best possible location for an alternative port, but to function successfully its construction would have to be a “mega-project” of incalculable expense, unjustifiable for the foreseeable future.

In their promotion of this, we’re surely justified in asking why - if they’re really so enthusiastic to radically change the nature of the port area - why were they so keen to build their shiny new HQ blocks in the dockland area in the first place? Why didn’t they cluster their glass cities out in agreeable business parks up towards the Dublin Mountains where they’ll be able to create a sense of remoteness from the nitty-gritty of real life, which is currently to be found in the contemporary dockland scene where ships come and go with frequency every day, and there’s a continuous and invigorating sense of visible commerce and trade.

For of course they were drawn to the Docklands because of the fascinating sense of colourful character about the place, energised by its sense of everyday dynamic interaction with the sea and shipping with a vibrant maritime culture which the Dublin Port authority actively encourages in a laudable and visionary way. Yet in hoping to move the port activities elsewhere, they would be tearing the living beating heart out of it all.

If the corporate office tenants in the Dublin Docklands find shipping and its activities so difficult to live with, then why did they choose to locate there in the first place?If the corporate office tenants in the Dublin Docklands find shipping and its activities so difficult to live with, then why did they choose to locate there in the first place?

If they have their way on this potentially trendy idea, Dublin Port would become no more than Port Disneyland, and the short coastline at Bremore close north of Balbriggan would become the location of a hugely expensive yet totally soul-less ships’ cargo handling installation run by minimal staff, an Orwellian setup with little organic connection to its hinterland.

An Orwellian monster….. if the possible alternative port at exposed Bremore was built to standards of “international best practice”, its cost would be prohibitively expensiveAn Orwellian monster….. if the possible alternative port at exposed Bremore was built to standards of “international best practice”, its cost would be prohibitively expensive

Yet in its favour, we’ll hear that cliché about “following best international practice”. As Dublin generally manages to be a moderately entertaining and liveable place by quite often not following best international practice, that’s a statement which deserves examination, and where better to see the result of leading and very trend-setting international practice than in New York?

Admittedly the significant visit was 25 years ago, but the Big Apple being what it is, even in 1997 New York was a glimpse of today’s possible future in Dublin. Needless to say, it was a sailing-related business, as we’d been down at Annapolis for the 75th Anniversary Ball in the Naval College for the Cruising Club of America’s Blue Water Medal, and we arrived in New York high on the adrenalin of having been shooting the breeze with such Blue Water medallists as Carleton Mitchell, John Guzzwell, Tim Curtis and our own Paddy Barry.

All skyline and no shipping nor sense of the sea nearby – New York’s example would be a mistake for Dublin. Photo: W M NixonAll skyline and no shipping nor sense of the sea nearby – New York’s example would be a mistake for Dublin. Photo: W M Nixon

But you need to be in full fighting trim as you hit New York, otherwise it will hit you first. We happened to be staying in the NYYC which has its little formalities, and in the morning when our bull-necked Commodore arrived down for breakfast with an open-neck shirt, he was politely requested to wear a neck-tie. He stumped off to his room and returned – still steaming - wearing his Royal Cork tie, loudly informing the waiter that he was wearing the tie of a club which had been in existence for more than a hundred years when the site of his little club was still marshland. So thereafter we had our casual breakfasts in Joe’s Diner or some such place next door, while close beyond it was the wonderful Algonquin Hotel to provide an added alternative should the Commodore find further NYYC house rules irksome.

Personally I found the NYYC enchanting, as sailors are my tribe, our clubhouses are our temples, and the NYYC in New York is one of the best of them, while also providing the most convenient of bases for a two-and-a-half day blitz on Manhattan. Even in only that short time space, one day runs into another, but on sunny days in May such as we experienced, I can recommend an early visit to Wall Street and the Stock Exchange, as the smell of serious money first thing in the morning sets you up for the day.

Then maybe a cross-river jaunt on one of the ferries to savour the skyline, for in those long-gone days the Twin Towers still set the tone. Then as it was getting near the thirsty time of day, when the Commodore said he’d go anywhere except McSorley’s expletive-deleted saloon, I suggested Fraunce’s down near The Battery, Fraunce’s being the historic Tavern where George Washington took farewell of his troops on December 4th 1783 after their final War of Independence victory.

We bellied up to the bar in accepted New York style, and the barman took one look at the Commodore and threw the top of the gin bottle into the bin. Apparently Fraunce’s can get crowded later in the day, so we were having the best of it in terms of attention, friendliness and generosity, such that we concluded that it’s not only a wonder that George Washington could get back on his horse after savouring the Fraunce’s experience, but it’s a miracle that once in the saddle, he was actually facing the right way…..

The QE2 starts her stately progress down the empty Hudson RiverThe QE2 starts her stately progress down the empty Hudson River

To clear your head after Fraunce’s Tavern, zoom straight to the very top of the Empire State building. It’s one of those special life experiences that don’t disappoint, like arriving with the dawn into Venice on a cruising boat, or seeing the mighty botafumeiro whoosh across the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela after you’ve had a decidedly brisk sail southwards across Biscay.

And yet it was atop the Empire State Building on a sunny May afternoon that we finally fully grasped the real meaning of what happens when a great port moves its ship movements elsewhere. For although the city buzzed far below as only New York can, all around the edge was the dead skeleton of a port, and utterly empty were nearly all the berths which had previously heaved with life to give New Yorkers the feeling that they interacted with the wonders of the sea every bit as much as they very clearly interacted with the pure beauty of money.

Of course, with our luck, there were actually two ships berthed among the many vacant berths, and one of them slowly emerged stern-first into the Hudson and headed downriver. She was the QE2. She was the only vessel moving in the entire visible waterway.

With the World Trade Center Twin Towers still standing in 1997, the QE 2’s solitary seaward departure past the Statue of Liberty was perfectly framed. Photo: W M NixonWith the World Trade Center Twin Towers still standing in 1997, the QE 2’s solitary seaward departure past the Statue of Liberty was perfectly framed. Photo: W M Nixon

We watched her head seaward past the Statue of Liberty, and then remembered that somewhere far below us in the empty docks, there was one basin temporarily occupied by a small fleet of sailing superyachts preparing for the NYYC’s Transatlantic Challenge. We found them, and among them we found Peter Metcalfe from Strangford Lough as skipper aboard an enormous purple machine, while just across the way was an extremely good replica of the schooner America, looking as wonderful as ever.

Skipper Peter Metcalfe of Strangford Lough aboard “some big purple yoke” in New York as the fleet of superyachts prepare for the NYYC Transatlantic Challenge 1997, with the replica schooner America in background. Photo: W M NixonSkipper Peter Metcalfe of Strangford Lough aboard “some big purple yoke” in New York as the fleet of superyachts prepare for the NYYC Transatlantic Challenge 1997, with the replica schooner America in background. Photo: W M Nixon

Hello New York – the schooner America and the Empire State Building beyond made for a faint maritime link in ManhattanHello New York – the schooner America and the Empire State Building beyond made for a faint maritime link in Manhattan

But that was it as far as direct interaction is now to be found between New York and the sea which created it in the first place. Manhattan has enclosed itself in a stockade of skyscrapers, and if you move into the city for only a hundred yards, the sea behind you might just as well not be there.

Yet Manhattan is a fortress island, whereas Dublin is an inclusive estuary. Our city embraces the sea. With great ingenuity, the port engineers over the centuries have created massive bull walls which guide the ebb tide to scour the significant dredged depths which provide access to a transport hub for large ships and their many cargoes. Dublin Port, in short, is a work of genius. It behoves us to respect this by keeping it active, instead of turning it into some sort of residential, commercial and hospitality theme park.

For our experience had shown us that if you wanted off-the-wall entertainment for a couple of days, then New York was tops. But as somewhere to live and work and have a connection with real life by land and sea, Dublin is in a league of its own.

Manhattan project for Dublin Port 2050? That could almost be the Ferryman Inn….. Photo: W. M.NixonManhattan project for Dublin Port 2050? That could almost be the Ferryman Inn….. Photo: W. M.Nixon

Published in W M Nixon
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Dublin Port has announced its regret that the Chief Executive, Eamonn O’Reilly, is departing the company. He informed the Board of his decision to leave at the end of August 2022.

Mr O’Reilly has been in the position since 2010. Over the past twelve years, the company’s business volumes have grown by one quarter and profits by more than one-third, and under Mr O’Reilly’s leadership, the strategic direction of the company has been transformed by Masterplan 2040. He has overseen capital investment of €500 million in nationally critical port infrastructure and there is now a pipeline of projects and finance in place to allow development to continue to bring Dublin Port towards its ultimate capacity by 2040.

In his early days, Mr O’Reilly devised the concept of a 30-year Masterplan for Dublin Port which has provided a long-term blueprint for port development and, within that, he identified the need for a transformation in the relationship between the Port and the City. The success in achieving this essential strategic objective has resulted in new and diverse cultural, heritage and community initiatives to strengthen this important link.

The Board is now beginning the task of recruiting a new Chief Executive to ensure that the progress that has been made during Mr O’Reilly’s tenure continues in the years ahead.

The Chairman of Dublin Port Company, Mr Jerry Grant, commented as follows:

“I and the Board are very sorry to see Eamonn depart. We are very grateful to him for his professionalism since taking on the role in 2010 and we wish him every success in the next phase of his career. Eamonn has made a great contribution to Dublin Port over the past twelve years and has built up a top-class management team to continue the work of Masterplan 2040 in the coming years. Eamonn fulfilled his dual role as Chief Executive and as a Board member with dedication, enthusiasm and drive. He has left a lasting legacy in terms of the strategic development of the port, its reintegration with the City and the exceptional executive team managing this vital public infrastructure.

“The position of Chief Executive of Dublin Port is both challenging and exciting and our challenge now is to ensure that the recruitment process that has commenced will attract a strong field of candidates, leading to the appointment of a worthy successor to Eamonn.”

"I have relished every day of my time in Dublin Port and enjoyed the challenge of developing and implementing Masterplan 2040"

Eamonn O’Reilly reflected on his departure as follows:

“When I took the job in 2010, I did not envisage that I would still be here twelve years later. I have relished every day of my time in Dublin Port and enjoyed the challenge of developing and implementing Masterplan 2040. Having gone through Brexit and with all three Masterplan projects up and running - two under construction - it’s the right time for me to move on.

“At this stage, Dublin Port is well resourced in terms of plans, finance and people to maintain the momentum needed to deliver the additional cargo handling capacity that is required and to consolidate the revived relationship between the Port and the City. I will leave Dublin Port with great memories of the colleagues and friends I have worked with both in the Port itself and in local docklands communities. Dublin Port was the eighth chapter of my career and I am looking forward with excitement to the new challenges and opportunities ahead.”

Published in Dublin Port

Aware, the national charity supporting people impacted by depression and bipolar disorder, has announced the live return of its annual Harbour2Harbour Walk. A popular and successful fundraising event for over 15 years, the walk takes place on St. Patrick’s Day and follows a beautifully scenic route around Dublin Bay. Registration for the walk costs €25 and can be done at All participants will receive a t-shirt as part of their registration and are encouraged to wear these while taking part in the walk to increase awareness.

The event’s return comes following a two-year break in live fundraising events due to Covid-19. The Harbour2Harbour Walk offers an alternative outdoor activity on Ireland’s national holiday and is an opportunity for the public to engage with Aware and support its important work. People taking part in the event posting to social media are asked to share using the hashtag #WeAreAware.

Over the last year, close to 30,000 people have directly engaged with Aware’s support services and a further 8,000 people took part in education programmes facilitated by Aware. The Covid-19 pandemic has further fuelled the need for such supports, with Aware expecting sustained high levels of demand during 2022.

Speaking about the 2022 Harbour2Harbour Walk, Dominic Layden, Aware CEO, said, “The return to live events gives us a chance to come together on St. Patrick’s Day to enjoy a rewarding walk around Dublin Bay and also to reflect on the last two years.

“We are encouraging as many people as possible to take part in our Harbour to Harbour Walk to help raise funds for our vital services. It promises to be a great day out, and an opportunity to take part in something special that can make a real difference in the lives of people experiencing depression or bipolar disorder. I would like to sincerely thank our sponsor Dublin Port Company for their continued partnership which makes this event possible.”

The event is a 26km walk around Dublin Bay from Dún Laoghaire to Howth or vice versa and aims to raise funds and draw attention to the important work done by Aware. It last took place in 2019, when it attracted almost 2,000 participants. People taking part can begin their walk at either end of the route at approximately 10.30 am, although this start time is flexible. The walk is suitable for all levels of fitness and takes approximately four and a half hours to complete.

At the halfway point of the walk, Dublin Port Company will host the Halfway Gathering at Dublin Port Plaza, where fundraisers have an opportunity to take a break, grab a refreshment, and enjoy some of the entertainment on show, including a magician and a DJ. Participants can also take a moment to themselves by visiting the Reflection Tree at the Plaza. Under the Reflection Tree, participants can leave a personal message, or thought, about their experience during the pandemic. Aware will share some of these anonymous messages on social media.

The Director of Services at Aware, Stephen McBride, said, “This event and other fundraisers help to ensure that individuals across Ireland experiencing mental health difficulties know they are not alone and are provided with the knowledge, advice and tools they need to improve their wellbeing. We couldn’t do this without the support of the public and we are so happy to back hosting Harbour2Harbour again.”

Eamonn O’Reilly, Chief Executive at Dublin Port Company said, “Dublin Port Company is happy to be in a position to support Aware with this important fundraising event. We look forward to welcoming walkers to Port Centre’s public plaza at the Halfway Gathering and our team will be on hand with refreshments and plenty of support to all taking part in this great cause.

To further mark St. Patrick’s Day, the Port will be going green again this year by lighting up Port Centre, Crane 292, Odlums and the Diving Bell.”

Published in Dublin Bay
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Rotterdam based Value Maritime has secured a contract from shipping operator BG Freight Line (see previous story) to install its Filtree and carbon capture system on two feeder vessels, BG Onyx and BG Ruby.

Chartered from German shipowner HS Schiffahrt, these ships are scheduled to be retrofitted in the summer.

Upon completion of the upgrades, the ships will continue to sail in North-West Europe (where BG Freight's 'feeder' links call to UK and Ireland via Dublin Port and the Port of Cork)

They will emit less carbon and use Value Maritime outlets across the region to reuse carbon on land.

Value Maritime’s Filtree includes a Clean-Loop system and Carbon Capture feature.

Ship Technology has more on the contract to the container company which is a subsidiary of Peel Ports Group, the UK's second largest ports operator.

Published in Ports & Shipping

One of the UK’s largest port operators, Peel Ports Group which among its facilities includes a container terminal in Dublin Port, has announced major changes to its senior leadership team which is to take effect from 4 April 2022.

Having grown on average by 10% year-on-year for the last decade, and with over £1.2 billion being invested into its operations over the same period, the group’s announcement reinforces its ambition to future-proof the business whilst delivering the next phase of its long-term strategy.

⦁ Chairman Tom Allison is standing down but will remain on the board representing shareholder interests of Peel Group as a non-executive director.
⦁ Mark Whitworth will stand down as Chief Executive Officer but will assume the role of Chairman, overseeing the strategic development and governance of the group.
⦁ Claudio Veritiero will take over as new CEO as the group readies to commence a new investment programme across its primary assets

Mark Whitworth said: “For more than a decade we have consistently been at the forefront of the UK ports industry for the delivery of growth and investment. This has been a transformational period for the business and one that has enabled the group to create thousands of high value jobs within our existing and new facilities.”

“Given that stability in the company leadership has been a cornerstone of our success, the changes we are announcing today have been two years in the planning to ensure a smooth transition.”

“We have ambitious plans to maintain the growth trajectory, which in turn will continue to create positive results not only for our company, but also for the regions and communities we operate within, for many years to come.”

“The time is right for change and Claudio will be integral to making that change happen as he leads the business into an exciting new era.”

Mark Whitworth joined Peel Ports as Chief Executive in 2010 and over his tenure has led major transformations across the business, including the concept and launch of Liverpool2, a £400 million deep water container terminal, the £100m development of a custom-built biomass import terminal for Drax Group plc and the ongoing regeneration of major hubs such as Hunterston PARC and the Inchgreen Dry Dock in Scotland.

Significant acquisitions including the Port of Great Yarmouth and Quality Freight (now known as Peel Ports Logistics) are also included in Mark’s successful portfolio, all contributing to three-fold growth in profitability from when he joined the business.

Speaking about Tom Allison’s retirement as chairman, Mark added: “Tom has been an outstanding mentor throughout his time with our group and has overseen an unprecedented period of success. His business acumen and strategic counsel have been critical over the last 25 years and we are privileged to have him continuing to support the company as a non-executive director.”

Tom Allison was appointed Chief Executive of Clydeport PLC in 1997 and subsequently led the creation of Peel Ports Group in 2003. He then combined the role of CEO and Chairman, overseeing the acquisition of Mersey Docks and Harbour Company in 2005.

Claudio Veritiero joined Peel Ports in 2021 with over 25 years of experience working in the infrastructure, logistics, property development and financing markets. He was previously Chief Operating Officer of Kier Group Plc and has held roles as Chief Operating Officer of Speedy Hire and in the investment banking advisory division of Rothschild & Co.

Claudio said: “Since joining Peel Ports a year ago, I’ve been taken by the calibre of our people, our operations and our customer relationships. I’m delighted to be taking on the role of CEO and will look to build on the unprecedented success that Mark has led over 12 years. One of my priorities will be to take stock of the changing needs of our customers and the port communities in which we operate so that we can further enhance our offering and customer experience.”

“Ports are a vital catalyst for the whole economy, not just the supply chain, with a crucial role to play in creating jobs and enabling economic regeneration. I look forward to working closely with the leadership teams across the business, our customers and our commercial and community partners, as we deliver the next phase of our growth journey.”

Latest Department for Transport data confirms Peel Ports to be one of the fastest growing port groups in the UK, already handling 70 million tonnes of cargo per year and with 15% of the UK’s total port traffic traveling through its waters.

Peel Ports’ key facilities include Port of Liverpool, Manchester Ship Canal, Heysham Port, Clydeport, Great Yarmouth, London Medway and in Dublin Port, the Marine Terminals Ltd container terminal. (Afloat adds the MTL facility is located on the south quays, see photo above).

The ports group also owns BG Freight, the short-sea shipping operator that offers a range of freight and logistics services through Peel Ports Logistics. The group has seen significant growth, averaging 10% year on year across the last 10 years and outlaying over £1.2bn into projects over the same period.

Published in Ports & Shipping

Dublin Port Company will temporarily close access to both the Great South Wall and the Bull Wall bridge tomorrow (Friday 18 February) due to the arrival of Storm Eunice.

The Great South Wall wall be closed from midnight tonight until 7am on Saturday, while bridge access to the Bull Wall will be closed from 10am to 4pm tomorrow.

These times will be subject to review and adjustment as necessary over the next 24 hours, the port company says.

Meanwhile, Met Éireann has upgraded its warnings for Storm Eunice as it tracks inland this evening.

A Status Red storm warning is now in place from Howth Head to Roches Point to Erris Head and on the Irish Sea south of Anglesey, as cyclonic variable winds veering northwesterly will reach storm force 10 or violent storm force 11 at times overnight and tomorrow morning.

There will also be a risk of coastal flooding, especially at high tide, in counties Clare, Kerry, Cork and Waterford.

For the latest updates visit

Published in Weather
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The experienced staff running Dublin Port make no secret of the fact that it is difficult running a modern port facility within a developing city, even if the fact of having an active port as an integral part of the city is one of the features which give Dublin its special character.

A new organisation representing docklands businesses has now waded into the debate -The Irish Times has the story here

Published in Dublin Port
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On Stena Line's Dublin Port-Holyhead service today, a ropax that served the Ireland-Wales route has returned following a repositioning voyage from Scandinavia so to provide cover on the Irish Sea during routine annual dry-dock overhauls, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Stena Nordica which normally serves between Karlskrona, Sweden and Gdynia in Poland, had departed from the Baltic Sea port on Friday. This to enable covering in for fleetmates of the Gothenburg based company counterparts serving between Ireland and Britain.

As for operations firstly in the Baltic Sea with the Stena Nordica's roster which has been assigned to Stena Gothica. Afloat previously reported that in May this ship is to join sister Urd on Stena Line's new and first route connecting Finland, albeit a freight-only service. 

It was during the weekend that Afloat tracked the 2001 built Stena Nordica in the Skagerrak while off Jutland in northern Denmark, where the nearest ferryport, Hirtshals has links to Norway and the Faroe Islands. The voyage also included the crossing of the North Sea and via Scotland until arriving at the Welsh port.

Not every detail of the ropax's relief cover is listed by Afloat, given the complexity and changes that may take place during the ship's return on the Irish Sea due to operational reasons. However, Afloat can report was in observing Stena Nordica in Dublin Bay, with as the operator had planned this afternoon's sailing from Holyhead completed, marking the start of covering the overhauls.

This sees Stena Nordica take over the roster of Stena Adventurer which in turn covers those of Stena Estrid which today Afloat tracked having departed Holyhead and bound for Belfast. This is to cover dry-docking for another E-Flexer class, the Stena Embla on the Birkenhead (Liverpool) route. 

The Stena Nordica is no stranger to the Irish Sea as in 2008 was transferred to the Ireland-Wales route. As a result the ropax became the routes second ship to the Stena Adventurer until replaced by the Stena Superfast X. 

The 405 passenger/ 375 car/90 lorry capacity Stena Nordica was however originally commissioned by P&O (Irish Sea) Ferries as their European Ambassador which entered service in 2001. The then newbuild made a debut on the Liverpool to Dublin route. This was followed by the operators short lived service, having relocated the UK port to Mostyn in north Wales until operations resumed on Merseyside and continue do to so.

Other routes included P&O's weekend service from Dublin to Cherbourg with the French connection also occcasionally calling via Rosslare Europort. The was the first ever passenger car ferry link between the Irish capital and France.

Stena Nordica will also see duty on the St. Georges Channel when later this month the ropax takes over the Rosslare-Fishguard route, relieving routine serving veteran Stena Europe. There have been recent rumours spectulating as to the route's future and Stena Nordica replacing the 1981 built Stena Europe' which is scheduled on 24 February to be overhauled at A&P's dry-dock facility in Falmouth, Cornwall.

Afloat also at the weekend tracked at A&P Falmouth, P&O Ferries Norbay, one of the Dublin-Liverpool ropax sisters, having sailed directly from Larne where duties took place on the North Channel link to Cairnryan.

Asides 'Nordica's Stena career, there have also been charters, firstly to DFDS on the Dover-Calais route though this too saw a change of name as Malo Seaways complete with livery change.

Another charter during the ships two decades has seen a spell spent in the Meditteranean for operator GNV with at the time the ship's 'Stena' name reverted.

Published in Stena Line

Dublin Port Company has today reported trading figures for the fourth quarter of 2021 and for the year as a whole. 

Fourth quarter 2021

Following a surge in activity in Q4 2020, before Brexit border controls were introduced on 1st January 2021, overall volumes at Dublin Port declined in Q4 2021 by -10.3% to 9.1 million gross tonnes.

This decline was driven by an -11.9% reduction in the number of containers and trailers year-on-year from a pre-Brexit spike of 418,000 units in Q4 2020 to 369,000 units in Q4 2021.

For the year as a whole, overall volumes at Dublin Port fell by -5.2% to 34.9 million gross tonnes.For the year as a whole, overall volumes at Dublin Port fell by -5.2% to 34.9 million gross tonnes

Full year 2021

For the year as a whole, overall volumes at Dublin Port fell by -5.2% to 34.9 million gross tonnes.

83% of Dublin Port’s volumes are in the Ro-Ro and Lo-Lo modes and there were contrasting outcomes in these two modes:

  • The number of Ro-Ro units fell by -9.3% or 99,000 trailers
  • This was significantly offset by an increase in Lo-Lo units of +10.2% or 43,000 containers
  • Overall unitised volumes (Ro-Ro and Lo-Lo combined) were down by -3.8% or 56,000 units
  • Trade vehicle imports increased by +10.9% during 2021 to 82,000 notwithstanding space constraints causing a number of ship arrivals to be cancelled during December, the busiest month in the year for Irish vehicle imports.


The full year impacts of Brexit on Dublin Port’s unitised volumes (Ro-Ro and Lo-Lo) are now clear:

  • The overall decline in the number of containers and trailers was small at just 56,000 units (‑3.8%).
  • Fewer goods are now moving in trailers in the Ro-Ro mode and more are moving in containers in the Lo-Lo mode. Lo-Lo’s share of unitised volumes increased from 29% to 33%.
  • Fewer Ro-Ro trailers are moving driver-accompanied. During 2021, their number declined by 90,000, contributing substantially to the overall decline in Ro-Ro volumes of 99,000.
  • The decline in Ro-Ro volumes was concentrated on routes to the GB ports of Holyhead, Liverpool and Heysham where volumes declined by 187,000 (-21%) to 703,000.
  • However, Ro-Ro volumes on direct routes to Continental Europe increased by 88,000 to 259,000.
  • As a result, where GB routes accounted for 64% of all of the 1.5 million unit loads (Ro-Ro and Lo-Lo combined) in 2020, they only accounted for 52% of the 1.4 million unit loads in 2021.

17% of Dublin Port’s volumes are in the bulk commodity modes and these grew by +2.1% during 2021:

  • Bulk Liquid - primarily petroleum imports - grew by +1.7% to 3.9 million tonnes.
  • Bulk Solid volumes grew by +0.9% to 2.0 million tonnes. This includes movements of animal feed, lead and zinc ore concentrates, scrap metals and petroleum coke.
  • Overall, bulk commodities increased by +2.1% to 6.0 million tonnes


Although passenger numbers increased by 1.5% to 845,000 during 2021, the number travelling is still less than half of what it was pre-Covid (1.9 million in 2019).

Commenting on the 2021 figures, Dublin Port’s Chief Executive, Eamonn O’Reilly, said: “Dublin Port finished 2021 with overall volumes down on their 2020 levels by -5.2%. The reduction in cargo throughput was accounted for by a drop of 56,000 in the number of containers and trailers to 1.4 million. Behind this figure there was a substantial decline in unitised volumes with GB – down 214,000 units – largely offset by a strong increase in volumes with the EU of 158,000 units.

“Brexit has caused the make-up of Dublin Port’s unitised volumes to change significantly. Ro-Ro volumes were down by 99,000 and, for the most part, this decline was accounted for by a 90,000 reduction in driver accompanied Ro-Ro. By comparison, the number of Lo-Lo containers increased by 43,000.

Dublin Port’s Chief Executive, Eamonn O’ReillyDublin Port’s Chief Executive, Eamonn O’Reilly

“The extensive Brexit preparation work completed in 2020 paid off in 2021. There was none of the catastrophic congestion that had been projected and what disruptions there were in the early days of 2021 were quickly resolved as supply chains adapted to the new realities. Over the course of the year, the average number of trailers called for some physical inspection on services from GB was just 2.5 per ferry.

“The risks of Brexit were comprehensively mitigated and Dublin Port’s volumes are set to increase again during 2022 driven by growth in trade on direct services with Continental Europe.

“Looking ahead, we are currently preparing our third and final Masterplan project - the 3FM Project - to provide additional infrastructure for continued future growth. The 3FM Project includes the construction of Ireland’s largest container terminal with an annual capacity of 360,000 containers to meet Ireland’s long-term port infrastructure needs.”

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Dublin Port Company (DPC) has today launched the 3FM Project, the third and final Masterplan project needed to complete the development of Dublin Port and bring it to its ultimate and final capacity by 2040.

The 3FM Project will deliver 20% of the capacity required by 2040 on one-fifth of Dublin Port’s lands, all located on the Poolbeg Peninsula, at an estimated cost of €400m (2021 prices).

Construction will commence in 2026 and be completed between 2030 and 2035.

The project is at the pre-planning stage and DPC will lodge a planning application with An Bord Pleanála in early 2023. Between now and then, the company will prepare the detailed project design and environmental impact reports required for large infrastructure projects. Today’s launch is the start of a detailed conversation with all stakeholders before that work begins.

Details of the 3FM Project are now available to view online at Dublin Port Company is inviting people to submit comments and queries on any aspect of the project to: [email protected] by 31st December 2021.

3FM Dublin Port Project

3FM Project

The project has six elements:

1. A new private road called the Southern Port Access Route (SPAR) to link the north and south port areas, taking HGVs off the public road via a new bridge across the River Liffey immediately east of the Tom Clarke Bridge - giving pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users a less congested route for active travel across the city. 

2. The construction of the largest container terminal in the country in front of ESB’s Poolbeg Power Station with an annual throughput capacity of 360,000 containers (612,000 TEU)

3. The redevelopment of the existing blue container terminal to create a new Ro-Ro freight terminal in its place with an annual throughput capacity of 288,000 freight trailers

4. Creation of a 325 metre diameter ship turning circle in front of Pigeon House Harbour

5. Development of 6.1 hectares (15.1 acres) of new public parks in three locations on the Poolbeg Peninsula to provide community gain

  • 2.1 hectare (5.2 acre) sailing, rowing and maritime campus adjacent to the existing Poolbeg Yacht Club
  • 1.2 hectare (3.0 acre) Pigeon House Park beside Pigeon House Harbour
  • 2.8 hectare (6.9 acre) Port Park as a buffer between the port and the Pembroke at Dublin Four development
  • 5.5 km of cycle paths and pedestrian routes throughout the Poolbeg Peninsula

6. Provision of a 1.0-hectare site to accommodate utilities needed, firstly, for the City’s district heating scheme powered by the Covanta waste to energy plant and, secondly, to accommodate a range of utilities for the Pembroke at Dublin Four development.

Draft aerial impression of the SPAR adjacent to the existing Tom Clarke Bridge and showing DCC’s two proposed new bridges – the pedestrian and cycle bridge across the Liffey and the bridge from Sir John Rogerson’s Quay across the Dodder - and provision for a possible future LUAS extension to the Poolbeg Peninsula.Draft aerial impression of the SPAR adjacent to the existing Tom Clarke Bridge and showing DCC’s two proposed new bridges – the pedestrian and cycle bridge across the Liffey and the bridge from Sir John Rogerson’s Quay across the Dodder - and provision for a possible future LUAS extension to the Poolbeg Peninsula.

Investing in capacity for future growth ahead of time

The 3FM Project is being launched now to ensure that essential port capacity is available on time. Capacity pinch points are already evident in the north port area post Brexit and pending completion of consented Masterplan projects there – the ABR Project and the MP2 Project - which are already underway. [See notes to Editors for throughputs, capacities, and status update on all projects.]

Since 2010, Dublin Port Company has invested €500 million in the north port area to provide port capacity to cater for growth of 44% in overall port volumes in just ten years – equivalent to an annual growth rate of 3.7%.

In the Lo-Lo mode, volumes have grown by 37% between 2010 and 2020. However, since Brexit growth has accelerated and volumes in 2021 are 14% higher than last year. A key part of the 3FM Project is the construction of a new container terminal, the largest in the country, to provide an annual throughput capacity of 360,000 units (612,000 TEU). To put this into context, the new container terminal will have capacity for more than twice the number of containers handled in all other ports in the country last year. 

Proper planning and sustainable development

The development of Dublin Port is supported by National Ports Policy and the National Development Plan, by the NTA’s Transport Strategy for the Greater Dublin Area and by the Dublin City Development Plan. Dublin Port Company is committed to proper planning and sustainable development and has already secured planning permissions for two large Strategic Infrastructure Development projects from An Bord Pleanála – the ABR Project (2015) and the MP2 Project (2020).

The company is working to secure planning permission for the 3FM Project by 2024 to ensure the continued provision of national port capacity in Dublin Port up to 2040.

Port-city integration

The 3FM Project will deliver not only the capacity objectives of Masterplan 2040, but also the objective to re-integrate Dublin Port with Dublin City. The City and local communities will benefit from three new public parks on the Poolbeg Peninsula, improved access to the waterfront and to the Great South Wall, all linked by more than five kilometres of new and improved pedestrian and cycle routes. These will tie in with 10km of greenways and active travel routes currently being built in the north port area, including the Liffey-Tolka Project.

How to take part in the conversation

The next step in the planning stage of the project is the preparation of a detailed design and environmental analysis in advance of lodging a planning application in 2023. Before beginning this work in January 2022, Dublin Port Company is starting a conversation with as wide a range of stakeholders as possible, particularly local communities. All feedback and any ideas received by the end of December 2021 will help ensure that the 3FM Project is carefully and properly designed.

Views, ideas and suggestions should be sent to: [email protected], or by post, to:

3FM Project
Dublin Port Company
Port Centre
Alexandra Road
Dublin 1

Dublin Port Company Chief Executive, Eamonn O’ReillyDublin Port Company Chief Executive, Eamonn O’Reilly Photo: Conor McCabe

Commenting on the launch of the 3FM Project, Dublin Port’s Chief Executive, Eamonn O’Reilly, said: “There is very little spare capacity for future growth of unitised trade in Dublin Port or in any other port in the country. Planning for long-term needs as far out as 2040 is very difficult and it is important for us in Dublin Port to plan early to ensure that we are ready to construct nationally essential port capacity in advance of demand.

“We are developing Dublin Port based on Masterplan 2040 at an overall estimated cost of €1.6 billion over the 30 years from 2010 to 2040. Port infrastructure is very expensive and, by the end of this year, we will have invested €500m in the 11 years since 2010. Over the next five years, we will invest a further €450m. We aim to begin to build the €400m 3FM Project in 2026 and to complete it between 2030 and 2035.

“Masterplan 2040 projects that Dublin Port will need capacity for an annual throughput of 3.1 million trailers and containers by 2040. The 3FM Project will deliver one-fifth of this capacity by way of a new Lo-Lo terminal - 360,000 containers per annum - and a new Ro-Ro freight terminal - 288,000 freight trailers per annum.

“The challenge of long-term infrastructure planning was well illustrated in the Dublin Transport Initiative (DTI) report of 1995. The DTI predicted Dublin Port’s cargo volumes would reach 12 million tonnes by 2011. However, volumes in 2000 – just five years after the report was published – had already reached 21 million tonnes. For the last two decades, Dublin Port has been playing catch-up and it is important for the next twenty years that we keep capacity ahead of demand.

“Active travel is now a feature of all development plans in the country and the 3FM Project will make a huge contribution to the provision of high-quality walking and cycling routes throughout the Poolbeg Peninsula. The new bridge we are proposing as part of the Southern Port Access Route will link this network across the river into the north side of Dublin Port where we already have ten kilometres of cycling and pedestrian routes under development.

“Over the decades that Dublin Port moved downriver, the port became invisible to the city. The 3FM Project will provide three new public parks on the Poolbeg Peninsula in the heart of the working port. These will open up to the river and to Sandymount strand and will help to re-establish the historical link between Dublin Port and Dublin City.”

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