THE CEO of Dundalk port said that the port is viable despite a government briefing document in which the commercial vibility of the port was questioned.
Captain Frank Allen says that the port has through diversification managed to generate significant revenue from non traditional areas.
The briefing document for new Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar, released under the Freedom of Information Act, says that civil servants have cast doubts over the furture of three ports: Dundalk, New Ross and Wicklow, due to the recession.
According to the report: “Their future commercial viability as independent businesses is open to question.”
Yet speaking to the Dundalk Democrat this week Capt Allen told the paper that “We have diversified in several new areas.
“For example we have contracted out the use of a dredger which is owned by the port. It is currently being used in the Lagan estuary in Belfast, where it is moving over 60,000 tonnes of spoil out to sea. This means that in a flooding situation that city has increased capacity to absorb the flood water.”
“We have also won a contract to manage fishing control vessels which are deployed across the Irish seaboard.
“We have also won a contract to supply research survery vessles for the Department of the Marine in Galway.”
Capt Allen admitted however that like many other businesses in the country, small ports have been negatively effected. “Areas such as timber, steel and plasterboard have declined and are not being imported as much. That said, we are still seeing grain, cereal and fertilisers. Small ports have to look at diversification to win new revenue streams.
“This port was well managed during the boom and is now well positioned with financial resources to survive the recession. The port is certainly not in jeopardy.”
According to briefing document the single greatest stumbling block seems to be the inability to source adequate capital funding due to doubts over Ireland’s finances in international markets.