By Sean O’Riordan and Fiachra Ó Cionnaith
The Port of Cork is doubling the size of its customs building in Ringaskiddy due to the increasing likelihood of a hard Brexit.
“We have to plan for the worst now at this stage,” said Port of Cork chief executive Brendan Keating.
Already, a large number of HGVs from the North use ferry connections from Cork to get to Brittany in France and Santander in Spain. If a hard Brexit occurs, it is likely that increased HGV traffic will use the routes out of Cork.
The Port of Cork is investing €85m in developing expanded cargo-handling facilities at its deepwater terminal Ringaskiddy. It has successfully applied to Bord Pleanála to increase the size of a previously permitted customs’ inspection building at Ringaskiddy from 324sq m to 648sq m, primarily in light of the uncertainty over Brexit.
“We have to have the capability to put the necessary checks in place,” Mr Keating said, adding that, if a hard Brexit occurs, there is likely to be more demand for freight and cargo to transit via Dublin and Rosslare ports as well.
“We also have to plan to be able to handle overflow that can’t be accommodated in Rosslare and Dublin,” said Mr Keating.
The move comes as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar warned British prime minister Boris Johnson the Brexit standoff will “go on and on and on” for years and will not end if the UK crashes out of the EU on October 31.
Mr Varadkar issued the warning, saying he is not fatalistic about a no-deal Brexit and downplayed the possibility of a border poll.
“What I am saying is that it doesn’t end on October 31,” Mr Varadkar said at Hillsborough Castle in Belfast.
“If there is a deal, well then we can start to talk about a free trade agreement and a new economic and security partnership, so this goes on and on and on for many, many years. This doesn’t end.”