independent

Tuesday 17 July 2018

Fears for port as one winter service is axed

The Oscar Wilde ferry
The Oscar Wilde ferry

Anna Hayes

Fears for the future of Rosslare Europort have been compounded by the fact that Irish Ferries will transfer its Oscar Wilde ferry service to Dublin for the winter months.

Sinn Féin councillor Mick Roche said he was shocked to recently discover the planned changes to the service, saying the port needed to be upgraded and this would be a step backwards.

His party has planned a public protest for Wednesday evening at 6 p.m.

The subject of developing Rosslare Europort has long been a bone of contention in Wexford, and President of the Irish Road Haulage Association Verona Murphy said that the removal of the Oscar Wilde service for the winter would be 'disastrous'.

She pointed out that the shortest route to Europe was from Rosslare, remarking that the Dublin to Cherbourg ferry is four hours longer than the one from Rosslare.

'I would like to know what their reasoning is for pulling the ferry out during the winter months. If there is a ferry going from Rosslare, drivers will use it because they don't want to be driving on the M50 and Dublin Port is already overstretched.'

She pointed out that, in the winter months, it was the hauliers who kep the ferries going.

'I think the majority of southern based hauliers would much prefer to go through Rosslare, especially in winter when the sea conditions might not be very pleasant.'

She said she would see this move as a 'downgrade' but also acknowledged that Rosslare Europort needed massive investment.

'We can't just blame Irish Ferries either. If they don't see Rosslare being upgraded then you can't blame them for making a business decision.'

Ms Murphy explained that Dublin Port was being supported by the government in terms of upgrading for whatever changes Brexit might bring.

'Rosslare needs about €40m of funding to provide facilities and to upgrade it to a border inspection post. There is a huge issue over ownership as we know.'

She said that Glen Carr, the manager of Rosslare Europort and she were in negotiations with the government over investment.

'We can't say the government aren't listening but it feels like they are dragging their heels a bit. This issue needs action. It will never be a waste of money. I've been a haulier for 27 years and I've seen the port go downhill over that time.'

The only Irish Ferries service in Rosslare this winter will be to Pembroke while a Stena Line service will run to Cherbourg.

Irish Ferries said it was continuing to offer a year-round service to France but said it was constructed in a way that would match different demand at different times of the year.

The proposed changes come into effect from September.

Ferry schedules for 2019 will not be finalised until later in the year.

Wexford People

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