The Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey T.D., today (Friday 28th September 2007) address the National Ports Conference in Killiney Co. Dublin.
Speaking at the conference Minister Dempsey said: "Since 2000, tonnage throughput at Irish ports has increased nearly 20%. 2006 was another good year for the port sector with overall tonnage figures up 2.2% to 53.3 million tonnes. It is a credit to the sector that it has managed this rapid growth without any major disruption of trade in and out of the country. I am pleased to note that the passenger market increased by 5 per cent for the first 6 months of this year, with a total of 1.46 million passengers also."
Minister Dempsey added; "The continued strong growth in tonnage leads us to look at the issue of port capacity. As Minister with responsibility for the sector, it is my job to ensure that we continuously review and adapt our strategies to fit the changing social and economic circumstances. It is vital to ensure that significant additional capacity is brought about as quickly as possible so that a national capacity shortfall is not encountered. To this end the Government will undertake a comprehensive study of the role of Dublin Port, as indicated in the National Development Plan, taking account of locational considerations, in the context of overall ports policy on the island of Ireland, wider transport policy, urban development policy, the National Spatial Strategy and national economic policy. I must also welcome the level of shipping activity in the country in recent years, there has been a three-fold increase in the number of ships owned, managed and operated by Irish ship-owners. There has been a 79% increase in direct shipping services between Ireland, the UK and the Continent over an 11-year period.
Minister Dempsey concluded; "A strong, competitive and vibrant network of seaborne links is of vital importance for Ireland to continue to meet the needs of tourism, trade and industry. I think it is clear that the issues facing our ports are challenging. I believe that through a dynamic effort by all concerned, our ports can continue to develop and underpin the needs of the economy."
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