MINISTER for Transport Leo Varadkar announced his intention to amalgamate Dundalk Port Company with Dublin Port on Thursday, May 19.
The move follows a recommendation from economist Colm McCarthy from his recent review of State assets. McCarthy recommended that Ireland’s smaller commercial ports should be merged with Dublin, Cork or Shannon-Foynes.
Minister Varadkar said the “financial difficulties” faced by Dundalk meant that it could “no longer” operate independently and could now close.
Dundalk made an operating loss of e363,000 in 2009 while its sales fell by 17 per cent to just over e1 billion.
The number of ships entering the port fell from a peak of 221 in 2006 to just 64 last year.
Louth Labour TD Ged Nash has said that every effort must be made to protect jobs in Dundalk Port Company when it is amalgamated with Dublin Port.
Mr Nash has sought clarification from the Minister for Transport in relation to the protection of jobs at Dundalk Port in light of the proposed transfer of the port to Dublin Port Company.
“There has been a considerable drop in port activity in Dundalk in recent years. In 2010, an average of around one ship a week was docking at Dundalk,” he said.
“Following a review, the Minister has decided that the company will be amalgamated with Dublin Port Company.”
Mr Nash added: “Time will tell whether this is the best course of action for Dundalk Company or not. In the meantime, the most urgent situation facing us is some certainty around the future of those who depend on Dundalk Port for employment.
“I will be asking the Minister to clarify that the transfer of responsibility to Dublin Port will protect the interests of those working at Dundalk now and for the future.”