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Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar TD has announced a new National Ports Policy toradically overhaul Ireland’s commercial ports, the principle aim of which is to facilitate a competitive and effective market for maritime transport services.

The Government, according to the plan intend to adopt an increasingly active approach towards the sector.

There will be increased recognition of the different roles individual ports have to play going forward and the policy sets out which ports are of National Significance and have a national function, and which are of regional significance with a specialist significance at national level. In this regard, Tier 1 ports, or ports of national significance include Dublin Port Company, Port of Cork Company and Shannon Foynes Port and those of national. Tier 2 ports of national significance are Rosslare Europort and the Port of Waterford Company.

There are 14 ports of regional importance, five of which are State companies at Drogheda, Dún Laoghaire, Galway, New Ross and Wicklow. These Ports of Regional Significance will be placed within a local authority-led governance structure with local authorities taking shareholdings in the ports.

Furthermore, the plan encourages private sector investment. Future investment in deepwater capacity, when needed, will not occur until it has been subjected to stringent analysis commissioned by the Department of Transport, and will be led by the national ports;

The commercial mandate of ports will remain. They will be expected to turn a profit, pay a dividend and will not receive Exchequer grants.