Written answers

Thursday, 21 March 2024

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

Transport Policy

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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166. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the degree to which he remains satisfied that the main transport routes to mainland Europe are adequately provided for in order to ensure ready, unimpeded access to and from to continue to facilitate imports and exports to and from this country post-Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13452/24]

Photo of Jack ChambersJack Chambers (Dublin West, Fianna Fail)
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Maritime transport is the most important means of connecting Ireland to international markets, accounting for more than 90% of Ireland’s international trade. An efficient and resilient maritime transport sector is fundamental to the successful functioning of the Irish economy.

At the end of the Brexit transition, Ireland saw a rapid and unprecedented reconfiguration of its traditional supply chains. New customs obligations drove a surge in the demand for services on direct routes between Irish ports and mainland Europe. RoRo traffic (Roll on/roll off freight cargo, which can be accompanied/ unaccompanied by a driver) 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 has declined by 20% post-Brexit as a result. Direct EU traffic has doubled and now represents one-third of all RoRo volume, compared to 16% in recent years.

This major shift in traffic was made possible due to the preparation, innovation, and adaptability of the shipping operators in the RoRo and LoLo (container) sectors. By late 2020, new routes were opened, existing services were expanded, and additional capacity was added across all shipping modes. This was clear evidence of the ability of Irish supply chains to be resilient and reactive to changes in demand.

To put this in context, in 2019 Ireland had about 30 direct sailings to and from European ports. Today, there are over 70 direct sailings to the continent and capacity continues to be added. Ireland wants the maximum connectivity opinions possible. A well-functioning landbridge through Great Britain remains vital for Irish importers and exporters and it is a priority for the Irish Government to maintain that.

Irish supply chains have faced impacts from the end of the Brexit transition period, the COVID-19 pandemic, unprecedented increases in containership freight rates, rising fuel costs due to the conflict in Ukraine, and heightened inflation rates that increase the cost of all business activity. That this market continues to provide uninterrupted connectivity to international markets for Irish importers and exporters is evidence of its resilience.

My Department, in conjunction with the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO), continually monitors Ireland’s international maritime connectivity and has ongoing engagement with port and shipping stakeholders regarding a wide range of maritime transport-related issues.


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