The number of ferry sailings between Ireland and EU ports has tripled since the Brexit trade deal became a reality at the start of this year.

Speaking at a multi-agency briefing at Dublin Port on Monday, Eddie Burke, a member of the Brexit unit at the Department of Transport, outlined the sharp increase in direct sailings from Ireland to ports in continental Europe.

In the first 25 days of the new year, Burke said there were now five shipping companies operating 62 sailings per week in both directions between ports in Ireland (Dublin, Rosslare and Cork) and seven different ports in the EU.

Significant increase

This is a significant increase on the same month last year, when four shipping companies operated just 26 sailing per week directly between Irish ports and four EU ports.

Burke said the number of ships being used for direct services between Ireland and continental Europe had also increased significantly from seven vessels last year to 17 so far this year.

Burke said the increase in demand for direct sailings to Europe was driven by the added complexity and paperwork needed to move goods through the UK landbridge.

“The volume of trade between Ireland and Great Britain remains very low compared to last year and we remain concerned as to why those volumes still haven’t recovered.

“We would like to see the volume of goods being shipped from Great Britain increase quicker than they are at the moment,” he said.

Trade volumes

While we’re almost a full month into the new trading relationship between the UK and the EU, officials at Dublin Port are still reporting a sharp decline in cargo volumes coming through Dublin Port.

Revenue’s head of customs at Dublin Port Tom Talbot said freight movements through the port are still down as much as 50% on the same time last year.

Talbot said almost 80% of goods being imported through Dublin Port are being ‘green routed’ through the port, while just 6% of imports were being ‘red routed’ and sent for physical inspection.