As cargo ships keep getting bigger, Port of Cork CEO Brendan Keating is positioning Cork to become their first Irish port of call.
The operations of the Port of Cork Company already host the largest weekly arrival of any cargo ship to the island, the Maersk service from Central America carrying bananas and other fruits sold by Fyffes, Keelings and other food distributors nationwide.
But Keating sees a near future when Cork becomes Ireland's main port for much bigger shipments from continental Europe and America. That vision is taking shape right now at Ringaskiddy.
He has spent much of his 18 years as Port of Cork chief executive seeking to develop that deep-water facility 20km south-east of Cork city into the port's main hub. After nearly a decade of planning and two years of sometimes fractious relations with primary contractors BAM Civil, Keating expects the new €86 mln Cork Container Terminal to open by early 2021.
Border inspection post
Still, the Port of Cork says it needs a border inspection post to stop the wasteful practice of trucking imported food to Dublin for inspection before it can be sold. Keating has said that fruit and vegetables arriving weekly from Central America cannot be cleared for distribution after arriving into Cork's deep-water terminal in Ringaskiddy. Instead such food imports must be trucked in sealed containers 260 kilometres to Dublin Port for inspection there.