UK trade with Ireland’s biggest port recovering from post-Brexit slump

The boss of Dublin Port had warned earlier this year that the so-called landbridge between the two countries had gone but the latest statistics would suggest improving demand for UK routes.

Dublin Port
Image:Dublin Port is witnessing a resurgence in trade volumes with the UK
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After a sharp post-Brexit decline, Ireland’s largest port recorded a rebound in freight volumes to and from the UK during the first quarter of this year.

New figures from Dublin Port show that freight to and from the ports of Holyhead, Liverpool and Heysham grew by 23% from the same period in 2021 to 192,000 units.

However, the stats also show that trade across the Irish Sea remains 18% lower than before Brexit.

A sea truck cargo ship arrives into Dublin Port during Storm Eunice, in Dublin, Ireland February 18, 2022. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Image:Trade traffic between the UK and Ireland dipped sharply after Brexit but is no showing signs of a recovery

Brexit border controls were introduced on 1st January 2021 after the UK formally left the European Union.

That led to a 15% drop in freight volumes between Dublin Port and the UK in the first quarter of last year.

The new data is being seen as an encouraging sign that freight trade between Ireland and the UK could recover after the shock of Brexit.

Dublin Port’s CEO Eamonn O’Reilly said the port’s growth of almost 14% in the quarter was “largely driven” by the surge in traffic to and from the UK routes.


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“Given that the first quarter of 2021 was very weak in the wake of Brexit – with overall cargo volumes back by 15% – we anticipated, and, duly saw, a strong recovery of 14% in the first quarter of the year to nine million gross tonnes.”

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In January, Mr O’Reilly said that he thought the so-called landbridge was “gone” because of Brexit.

The landbridge is the decades-old transit route through Britain that many Irish businesses chose for transportation needs to continental Europe.

Figures for 2021 show that increasingly, Irish traders were opting for direct routes to Europe, bypassing Britain and the post-Brexit red tape.

A spokesperson for Dublin Port described today’s figures as “a positive development”.