Minister for Transport Shane Ross sought to reassure DUP leader Arlene Foster that Cork and Belfast would fill the gap left by Dublin Port’s reduction in cruise ship arrivals.
Mr Ross wrote to the Northern Irish politician last month after she expressed concern that cruise liners may decide not to dock at Belfast Harbour if Dublin limited berth space for cruise ships due to construction work.
In his letter to Ms Foster, the Minister set out detailed conversations he had with the Dublin Port Company about its plans to reduce the number of cruise ships it can accommodate while it redevelops part of the port.
He told the DUP leader that while the port’s reduction in cruise business – from about 150 to 80 cruise ship arrivals a year from 2021 to 2023 – was “regrettable”, he welcomed the port’s intention to build cruise calls back to 150 ships in 2024 and 2025, rising to more than 200 arrivals after 2026.
“I should point out that my officials have also been in contact with the Port of Cork, who have advised that they are working with Belfast Harbour to see if they can take some of the additional business that may be lost as a result of Dublin Port’s proposals,” Mr Ross told Ms Foster in his letter, seen by The Irish Times.
The DUP leader raised concerns in her letter to the Minister that Dublin Port’s decision would limit cruise business coming to Belfast and would be “potentially damaging to the cruise industry in Northern Ireland”.