The Port of Cork is poised to set up a special "border control" facility to help ease congestion at Dublin and Rosslare should Britain crash out of the EU.
A British-Irish Chamber of Commerce meeting in Cork heard from the port's chief executive Brendan Keating, who said it was stepping up its plans to handle more traffic. "We are seeking to develop what is called a border control point. Dublin has built one and is prepared for a worst-case scenario hard Brexit. Rosslare is ready. We are about to start preparation on one to facilitate inspections of products coming to and from the country.
"We are doing it because the Government is somewhat concerned that with congestion in Dublin and Rosslare, other ports will have to kick in and facilitate trade movement. We are next and we will prepare. We will be ready in time," Mr Keating said.
The Port of Cork was somewhat insulated from a hard Brexit because its business is less dependant on daily trade across the Irish Sea. As a "lift-on, lift-off" port, it hoped to grow its market share from 20% to 25% once the multimillion redevelopment of Ringaskiddy is completed, Mr Keating said.
Dublin as a roll-on, roll-off port was a "phenomenal success" but would come under pressure to secure trade of fresh goods to the UK, he said. "Brexit will have a dramatic impact on the business model of Dublin Port," Mr Keating said.
Helen Arnold, co-founder of TVM, a Cork-based outside broadcast firm, said Brexit could mean "horrendous amounts of paperwork" between north and south but that business could mitigate the worst of the effects by meticulous planning.
"Brexit has been on our agenda of every meeting in the last two years," she said. The firm has contingency plans with Sky to continue to broadcast sports, including the GAA, she said.
Cork Chamber chief executive Conor Healy said the effects of Brexit on tourism had "gone somewhat under the radar". He called for more attention on the industry from the Government. The number of trips from overseas increased 4.3% to 938,300 in April from April 2018, CSO figures showed.