Belfast Harbour has today paid tribute to its outgoing Chair, Dr David Dobbin, whose term in office finished at the end of June and officially welcomed its new Chair, Dr Theresa Donaldson.

David Dobbin’s service to Belfast Harbour spans nine years, including six as the Chair of its Board and three years serving as a Harbour Commissioner.

During David Dobbin’s tenure as Chair, Belfast Harbour has seen record levels of trade, financial performance and investment, with the Port’s overall asset base growing by 50% since he was appointed in 2015. Belfast Harbour’s ambitious investment programme, which includes a number of major transformational projects, has delivered major benefits for Port users, the city, the regional economy and wider society.

Under Dr Dobbin’s Board leadership, Belfast Harbour developed and launched its long term strategy “A Port for Everyone”, covering its vision out to 2035 and detailing its plans to become the Best Regional Port in the world, to further grow as a key regional economic hub and to create an iconic waterfront district that is a standout destination for the city’s residents and visitors alike.  Working in partnership with key stakeholders, Belfast Harbour is also committed to making Belfast one of the smartest and greenest ports globally.

As Chair, David Dobbin has helped oversee the development and delivery of Belfast Harbour’s investment programme. More than £250m has been invested in major infrastructure projects during his time as Chair and a further £250m of future investments have been planned by the Board in the development of Port and Harbour Estate infrastructure and facilities up to 2025.

Key projects successfully delivered include the upgrade of the Port’s crane discharge, ferry and container facilities, the landmark City Quays development of grade A offices, hotel and multi storey car park and the creation of the Belfast Harbour Film Studios. These and other projects have secured and created valuable jobs in the Port, the creative industries, IT, financial services and the hospitality and leisure sectors, as well as supporting significant numbers of construction jobs.

As a long standing champion for water safety, David’s commitment to enhancing the safety of the inner harbour included his backing for Belfast Harbour’s recent investment in a new Belfast Harbour Police patrol vessel, and his active support as Patron of Lagan Search & Rescue.

As his term ends on June 30, 2021, Belfast Harbour has just announced a robust financial performance for 2020, with turnover of £62.8m and pre-tax profit of £30.1m, reflective of the Port successfully maintaining its port facilities and services on a 24/7 basis through the coronavirus pandemic.

David Dobbin said: “I have really enjoyed my time as Chair and it has been a real privilege to lead Belfast Harbour’s Board over the past six years and to see the continued and successful development of one of Northern Ireland’s key strategic assets. Belfast Harbour has achieved much during the past decade and I believe that its vision, strategy and investment plans will deliver further positive transformation and evolution of the Port and Harbour Estate, with significant benefits for the City, regional economy and all our citizens.”

“I have always taken immense pride in the fact that we are a Trust Port with our statutory purpose to operate, maintain and develop Belfast Port for the benefit of all our stakeholders and that we are entirely self-funded, reinvesting our all profits back into port infrastructure and regeneration projects that ultimately benefit everyone in Northern Ireland. Belfast Harbour’s ambitious investment programme in economically and socially significant projects for the Port and region have helped transform Belfast’s waterfront, creating an attractive place for people to work, visit and live. I would like to take this opportunity to pass on my best wishes to my successor, Theresa Donaldson, to Belfast Harbour’s CEO Joe O’Neill and to the Board of Commissioners as they continue in their vital work of keeping Belfast Harbour on course to achieving its goals and serving all of its stakeholders.”

Dr Theresa Donaldson, who is the first woman to be appointed as Chair of Belfast Harbour, thanked Dr Dobbin for his contribution to Belfast Harbour’s success.

Dr Donaldson said: “I would like to pay tribute to David for his significant contribution to the development of Belfast Harbour during the last decade.  As I pick up the mantle of Chair, I look forward to working with the Board and the Executive team to ensure that Belfast Harbour continues to play its critical role at the heart of the city’s regeneration.

“Belfast Harbour is essential to the smooth running of day-to-day life in this region and a major contributor to Northern Ireland’s economy. I want to ensure we continue to work in partnership with all of our stakeholders to achieve Belfast Harbour’s vision to become the world’s best regional port by growing economic activity, adopting new smart technology and upholding the highest environmental standards as a clean, green port.”