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Jammed up Dublin Port boss defends plan to divert traffic to Port Tunnel after Brexit

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Eamonn O'Reilly told TDs and Senators how there will be an extra 900,000 goods units that require border controls post-Brexit. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Eamonn O'Reilly told TDs and Senators how there will be an extra 900,000 goods units that require border controls post-Brexit. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Eamonn O'Reilly told TDs and Senators how there will be an extra 900,000 goods units that require border controls post-Brexit. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

THE boss of Dublin Port was forced to defend plans to divert trucks into the Port Tunnel and onto motorways if there is traffic congestion due to Brexit.

Chief Executive Eamonn O’Reilly also rejected claims that there’s already “chaos” at busy times at the port as he appeared at the Oireachtas Transport Committee.

He told TDs and Senators how there will be an extra 900,000 goods units that require border controls post-Brexit.

He said Dublin Port is already very busy and there’s a risk that container terminal traffic combined with the movement of HGVs between ferries and border control facilities, could exacerbate delays and lead to congestion.

Border checks are expected to cause delays and he warned that the current arrival times of ferries will increase those delays.

He said eight ferries arrive in pairs from Holyhead in four waves six hours apart and that Dublin Port wants to see these staggered to three-hour intervals.

Mr O’Reilly indicated that ferry companies have been resisting this as they say their schedules are determined by customer requirements.

He said roads in the port are being upgraded and there will be new traffic planning measures in place before the end of the year.

Mr O’Reilly said: “In the worst case, there could be congestion in Dublin Port and contingency plans have been prepared.

“Most notably, TII [Transport Infrastructure Ireland] has developed a procedure to allow HGVs exiting the southbound bore of the Dublin Port Tunnel to be U-turned to the northern bore in the event that the port congests.

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“In this way, traffic can be kept flowing in the tunnel and on the motorway network until congestion abates in the port.”

Sinn Féin TD Ruairi Ó Murchú claimed this plan “absolutely frightens all of us”.

His party colleague Darren O’Rourke said it could bring traffic chaos and the idea “of lorries doing a loop around the M50 and the port tunnel... I think will worry a lot of people”.

Mr O’Reilly insisted Dublin Port is “remarkably well prepared for Brexit given the scale of the challenge”

He said the “u-turning facility” needs to be understood in the context of contingency planning.

Mr O’Reilly said: “there will be problems in January - there's no doubt” but he believed the preparations will be effective “and the types of contingency measures that I set out I think they're essential.

“I think risk management is at the core of the industry.

“All of us within the port are always looking at risk management and identifying contingencies.

“I came here today and wasn't able to answer the question as to what happens if things go wrong. I think that would be bad.”

Independent TD Verona Murphy – a former president of the Irish Road Haulage Association – asked Mr O’Reilly to set out the engagement he has had with the ferry companies on changing their timetables.

She said the issue was raised back in 2018 by the IRHA.

He insisted efforts have been made to get them to do this but added: “We can't force them.

“If I attempted to change the slots of a ferry company I have no doubt we would be up in the courts.”

He rejected claims by Ms Murphy that the traffic at the port is already chaotic in the morning even before Brexit.

Mr O’Reilly said: “It is unbelievably busy. I don't believe it's chaos.”

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