Irish Ferries urged to continue Rosslare-France service

Dail hears ending route next year could do huge economic damage to Ireland

Labour leader Brendan Howlin that moving the Ireland-France ferry out of Rosslare could do huge damage to the Irish economy. File  Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Labour leader Brendan Howlin that moving the Ireland-France ferry out of Rosslare could do huge damage to the Irish economy. File Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

 

The Taoiseach has urged shipping company Irish Ferries to retain its services to France from Rosslare, Co Wexford.

Leo Varadkar told the Dáil that Minister of State for Transport Brendan Griffin was already making contacts with the company.

Owned by Irish Continental Group (ICG), Irish Ferries sails from Rosslare in Co Wexford to Cherbourg and Roscoff in France during the summer. On Tuesday it indicated that it would not do so in 2019.

But Labour leader Brendan Howlin that moving the Ireland-France ferry out of Rosslare could do huge damage to the Irish economy.

Mr Howlin said that with Brexit in the offing and the danger of a no-deal outcome, Ireland needed to expand its direct links with the Continent and not reduce them.

An over-reliance on Dublin Port would be a huge economic risk for the entire State, he said.

There was serious congestion on the M50 ring round around the capital and one incident in Dublin’s Port Tunnel resulted in major traffic disruption.

“There’s a risk of putting all our eggs in one basket with Dublin Port taking the vast bulk of trucks,” he said.

The Wexford TD said there were only three ports in Ireland which operated roll-on/roll-off ferry services - Dublin, Cork and Rosslare.

Rosslare had 12 per cent of the traffic but it accounted for one third of car passenger journeys, he said.

The previous government had improved road links to Rosslare, including bypasses for New Ross and Enniscorthy.

The former minister for public expenditure and reform said that massive investment was required to improve capacity and facilities.

Mr Varadkar acknowledged that Irish Ferries was making a commercial decision but the Minister of State had contacted the company. He said it would be better if the services from Rosslare to France kept operating.

The Taoiseach added that a €15 million upgrade was planned for Rosslare port.

On Tuesday, Irish Ferries said it was unlikely to operate a service between Rosslare and France in 2019.

“We continue to keep this situation under review. Our new WB Yeats ship will operate from Dublin to Cherbourg.”