A report has found there is sufficient capacity on existing ferry services between Ireland and continental Europe to accommodate any road haulage traffic that is displaced from the UK landbridge as a result of Brexit.

The Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) Report found that currently around 150,000 trucks a year use the landbridge to move goods between Ireland and continental Europe.

It also found that even without State intervention, the shipping industry is resilient, responsive and capable of adjusting to and satisfying market demand.

The Department of Transport also said that it and the IMDO have undertaken intensive engagement with shipping operators in recent week.

It said they have been assured by them that they have the means, the ability and the willingness to respond to changes in demand for direct services to the continent. 

The department said this includes the ability to increase services, redeploy ships within networks as demand requires and introduce additional tonnage capacity if needed.

Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton also confirmed that from January there will be additional daily ferry services from Dublin and Rosslare to Europe. 

"The IMDO analysis demonstrates that there is sufficient maritime capacity available to service direct routes to the continent, and importantly, that there is a strong willingness from the shipping industry to facilitate this new demand," Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said.

90% of Ireland's international trade comes through maritime ports, with the UK landbridge playing a hugely important role in moving Irish exports and imports into and out of Europe.

Because of this importance, the Minister for Transport asked the IMDO to assess the capability of the maritime sector to cope with possible disruption arising from Brexit and Covid-19.

Road hauliers and exporters have expressed concern about the impact on this movement if there is congestion at UK ports from January 1, following the ending of the Brexit transition period.

Regardless of whether there is a trade deal or not, there will be additional customs and other checks on goods going into and leaving the UK.

"There is no doubt that Brexit will disrupt operations on the UK landbridge and this report reinforces the need to prepare well in advance in order to avoid unnecessary delay," Mr Ryan said.

"I would encourage all those working in the logistic and shipping industry to ACT now and pay heed to the advice of the IMDO."