17 June 2019

Statement of Dublin Port Company

Monday, 17th June 2019

Dublin Port Company is a State-owned commercial company responsible for the management, operation and development of Dublin Port – the largest and busiest port on the island of Ireland with a planned capital investment of €1 billion over the next 10 years.

The company is well-managed, profitable and has a turnover of €90.4 million which has grown by 28% in the past 10 years. Dublin Port Company’s total operating cost base is €43.6 million.

Dublin Port has experienced unprecedented levels of growth in recent years. By the end of 2018 the port had recorded 36% growth in the previous six years, and turnover increases of 38% for the corresponding period.

Response to recent media reports

In response to recent media reports, Dublin Port Company wishes to make clear that all expenditure listed on credit cards is entirely on company business. No allegation of wrongdoing has been made in any report.

All expenditure, including travel, subsistence and hospitality is disclosed in the company’s financial accounts, which are independently audited and meet all reporting requirements and standards.

Internal investigation launched

The company has launched an immediate investigation into the source of the data leak to establish how it occurred and by whom it was carried out. External expert investigators are being appointed to carry out a forensic analysis to determine how this occurred and who is responsible.

Dublin Port wishes to establish the motivation behind the selective leaking of commercial information which appears designed to create an incorrect and damaging perception of inappropriate spend by the company. 

The company has also reported the issue to the relevant authority, the Data Protection Commissioner.

Credit Cards

As a matter of policy, the company operates a Purchase Order (PO) based system. There are specified exceptions to the system in accordance with procurement policy. Examples of one-off items which were purchased more efficiently via credit card include company iPad cloud storage via iTunes, an office dishwasher repair charge, and the replacement of a broken coffee pot for catering use. Other purchases include flights, accommodation, corporate hospitality, company advertising, cruise marketing, staff Bike to Work scheme and Rail Saver tickets, motor tax and IT.    

Credit cards are used as an administratively efficient means of payment with strong audit control. All credit card expenditure is in line with the company’s policy – only for business purposes, properly recorded, receipted and authorised. The company’s policy includes authorisation processes by senior management for each credit card, including the Chief Executive’s card which is approved by the Chairperson.

The company’s credit card policy is reviewed on an ongoing basis and updated regularly, most recently in May 2019 as a result of the move to a new credit card provider and the introduction of a new online system for reporting and approvals.

Internal Audit

All expenditure, including credit cards, is subject to review by the Internal Auditor, who reports directly to the Audit & Risk Committee of the Board. This expenditure is reviewed on an ongoing basis and formally reported annually as part of the Internal Control Review. The Internal Auditor also undertakes separate review projects by agreement with the Audit & Risk Committee. No concerns have been raised about any expenditure.

The total spend on credit cards in 2018 represents 1.2% of a total operating cost base of €43.6m. The Internal Auditor does not hold a company credit card.

Overseas Travel

The company is involved in international trade and commerce requiring overseas travel. All international travel is subject to approval by the CEO in advance based on a demonstrable business need. Budget or economy class flights are booked for short haul journeys, typically within Europe and business class travel may be booked for longer flights.

Overseas travel enables Dublin Port Company to learn from international peers on a range of business issues and see up close how other ports operate, including managing similar capacity constraints. There are no other ports in Ireland of a comparable nature in this regard.

The company’s representation on or participation in leading European and International port organisations and programmes, including AIVP (Association Internationale Villes Ports / International Association of Ports Cities), ESPO (European Sea Ports Organisation) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) TrainForTrade Programme provide valuable opportunities for the exchange of knowledge and training as the port modernises and expands.

Masterplan 2040 & Port-City Integration Initiatives  

Corporate hospitality and good community relations are an essential part of Dublin Port’s business strategy.  The company engages with a wide stakeholder, client and community base in Ireland and overseas as it delivers Masterplan 2040. This will see the company invest €1 billion in capital expenditure over the next 10 years on huge marine infrastructure projects in order to handle the doubling of cargo volumes that will take place between now and 2040.

This investment relies on neighbourhood consent and understanding, as well as strong links with a range of international stakeholders that sees the company host events, visits and functions throughout the year. The port’s focus on building these relationships has yielded significant results in recent years, overcoming obstacles that had blocked its development in the past.

Media reports refer to a “garden” which is in fact a substantial capital project involving a complete overhaul of the entire public realm at Port Centre and access. This was in keeping with the company’s Masterplan objective of greater port-city integration, softening the boundary of the port’s interface with the city and the first refurbishment work to be carried out at Port Centre in 35 years. The capital expenditure on the project of €6.97 million was fully reported to the Board and approved. The project included:

  • Removing sections of the existing old boundary walls
  • Installing new pedestrian entry points & gates
  • Refurbishing the podium / approach to the building
  • Installing a new sculpture on the podium
  • Creating a maritime garden and footbridge
  • Relocating all car parking facilities to the rear of the site

Refurbishing and installing a new landmark at the port-city interface (Crane 292)

The media story also refers to a “song”, which in fact was a major event to mark the christening of a new ship, MV Celine. The company makes decisions to invest in cultural projects and client events that support its business objectives. In this regard, Dublin Port Company chose to run a major event to mark the occasion, which included the commissioning of new music heard by an international audience of some 300 guests.

Payment to South Wind Blows included not only the commissioning of new music, but the staging and rigging for the event, full production, AV and payment to the participating artists and musicians including Lisa Hannigan, Damien Dempsey, John Sheahan and Colm MacCon Iomaire.

The business context for the event is that the ship is owned by CLdN, a major customer of Dublin Port which has committed to Dublin, investing significantly in direct shipping routes between Dublin Port and Continental European Ports of Zeebrugge and Rotterdam, offering additional capacity and an alternative for Ro-Ro trailers to the UK landbridge within the context of Dublin Port’s Brexit preparations.

Competitive Tendering

Expenditure is subject to competitive tendering and Board approval and is managed by the company’s Programme Management Office, which over the last three years has completed capital projects to an aggregate value of €212 million – all of which were competitively tendered. The nature of project development is such that some projects will come under budget and some will exceed budget. All variances are recorded and reported to the Board quarterly. Under the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies the company reports on any non-competitive procurement in its comprehensive report to the Minister. During 2018 1.95% of a total procurement spend of €98.6m did not go through competitive tendering. 

The Masterplan 2040 Reviewed 2018 continues to inform the development of Dublin Port and to which all business activities are aligned to support future growth.

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