Government must secure more ferry links for Hard Brexit Scenario
Reacting to the news that the UK will commit over £100m chartering ferries in preparation for a no deal Brexit, Labour Party Leader Brendan Howlin TD has called on the Irish Government to immediately move to bolster and diversify our sea transport links to the EU, which are already being reduced next year.
Deputy Howlin said:
“The Irish Government is standing idly by while the UK is awarding contracts to charter additional ferry capacity through Dover and other ports. According to the BBC, the British Department of Transport has awarded contracts to add an extra 10% capacity on cross channel routes worth £107.7m that would be activated in the event of a hard Brexit.
“At the same time we have already seen a passive Irish Government response to the decision by Irish Ferries to withdraw from next summer, a direct ferry service to Europe from Rosslare to Cherbourg, France, and ensure a diversity of service. Ireland is now in danger of becoming over reliant on Dublin Port while reducing the potential of the port closest to the EU.
“The Fine Gael Government, and Minister for Transport Shane Ross have ignored the need for investment in Rosslare. As we saw, the Ireland 2040 National Development Plan did not commit to additional investment in Rosslare when it was published earlier this year and only belatedly has the Government responded to the need to do more, but still not enough is being done.
“I have consistently been calling for the Government to commit to upgrading Rosslare to a Tier One Port.
“Bizarrely the Irish Government’s own Brexit contingency planning document published just before Christmas doesn’t mention the word ‘ferry’ once nor does it put forward the possible need to directly charter additional shipping capacity. Instead it focuses on ensuring the landbridge is kept open, but as we can now see the UK has already charted extra ferries while the Irish Government is only engaging ‘ with shipping companies to explore new connectivity and capacity options in response to Brexit’ as their own document published last week says.
“I am seriously concerned at the lack of strategic planning and foresight in Government about the need to take direct action to secure and enhance our connectivity to the EU.”