Northern Ireland

Belfast Harbour sale: No difference to operations, says senior official

Belfast Harbour Image copyright Phil Coomes
Image caption Belfast Harbour is a commercial operation run by publicly-appointed commissioners

Any future sale of Belfast Harbour will make no significant difference to its operations, a senior executive at the facility has said.

The Northern Ireland Executive is exploring options on the future of the harbour.

It is run by publicly-appointed commissioners.

The harbour's commercial director, Joe O'Neill, told the BBC's Inside Business programme that its thriving trade was set to continue.

As well as port activities, the harbour controls a huge land bank on both sides of Belfast Lough.

Mr O'Neill said: "We run the business very much in a private sector mode today.

"We are incredibly robust in terms of our commercial approach, our commercial policies and our financial policies.

"At that trading level, I don't believe there would be a substantial difference to the business in how we perform it on a day and daily basis."

"On today's trading performance, we think the model today works very well and has worked very well," he added.

In February, it was announced that a panel would be set up to advise on the way forward.

Under legislation, the Stormont executive could get as much as £400m from a 50% split of the proceeds.

Inside Business with Wendy Austin airs on BBC Radio Ulster on Sundays at 13:30 BST

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