IRISH Ferries’ plan to reduce its services through Rosslare Europort was raised in the Senate by Fine Gael’s Tim Lombard.
The news that the route to France, particularly for commercial trade, is to be curtailed is very serious, he said. ‘Some 2,500 articulated trucks leave Castletownbere every year,’ he said. ‘They will now have to go to Dublin. We do not need extra traffic going through Dublin. Their route always went through Rosslare and to the continent. They basically carried fish, particularly whitefish. It is the largest whitefish port in Ireland, so access to trade routes is very important. For any route to be curtailed is a big issue, but for this route to be curtailed is a major issue for us on the southern side of the island.”
Senator Lombard said there was a need to examine how to have a viable trade route to the continent that does not involve taking all goods up the M50 and through Dublin. ‘When I was mayor of Co Cork in 2012 we lost the Cork-Swansea ferry,’ he said. ‘That was a real loss to us as a community. It took us until the establishment of the Wild Atlantic Way to see recovery. The ferry service was a really important tourism link between us and Wales and was a major loss to our community.’
In response, Minister Shane Ross said Stena Line operates three weekly journeys to Cherbourg from Rosslare.
Rosslare Europort is targeting growth and new business opportunities and recently received the approval of the Iarnród Éireann board for a strategic plan to grow the port’s business, including investment plans for up to €25m in customer facilities, port infrastructure, port assets and new technology, he said. ‘The port is engaging with a number of potential new shipping customers to supplement existing operators and offer greater choice to freight and passenger business.’
He said there is also ongoing engagement between the Department and the port on the implications of Brexit.