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Port of Belfast plans £4.5m expansion for newspaper business

The Port of Belfast today announced plans to spend £4.5 million expanding its paper and newsprint handling facilities at Pollock Dock.

In such economically depressed times the work - due to be completed in August - will create 75 much needed construction jobs.

The development of the new facilities will consolidate the port's position as the island's leading bulk paper importer - last year it handled 137,000 tonnes of paper products with regular shipping services from Scandinavia and Canada.

Paper products sourced through Belfast are used by printers throughout Ireland, including the main printing presses in Belfast, Dublin and smaller regional printers as far away as Cork.

Announcing the expansion port chief executive Joe O'Neill said: "Back in the 1990s the port began investing in bespoke facilities for trades such as paper and steel, giving us the opportunity to compete for and win customers well beyond the port's natural hinterland.

"The chances are that if you're reading this story in a newspaper then the newsprint you're holding in your hand came in through the Port of Belfast

"From nothing just ten years ago, paper imports are now an important part of the port's diversified trade base - a good example of how niche investments can yield long-term benefits."

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Despite the advent of the internet and digital news, the demand for magazines, newspapers and paper products remained strong, he said.

"While there may be a short-term dip in trade during the current economic climate, the long term prospects for the business are good," added Mr O'Neill.

The upgrade of the Pollock Dock is part of a £630 million capital investment the port committed itself to last year to deliver a new generation of facilities over the next 10-15 years.

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