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'I'm going to ask them to reverse it': Ross 'deeply regrets' Irish Ferries' Rosslare-France announcement

Irish Ferries yesterday said it is “unlikely” to have a ferry service between Rosslare and France in 2019.

Image: Shutterstock/Peter Titmuss

Updated Dec 19th 2018, 2:35 PM

MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT Shane Ross has said he will ask Irish Ferries to “reverse” the company’s announcement that it may stop sailings between Rosslare and France. 

Irish Ferries yesterday announced that it is “unlikely” to have a ferry service between Rosslare and France next year. 

In a post to its Facebook page yesterday it said that it wished to inform its customers of the news, and that it continues to keep the situation under review.

“Feedback from our customers suggests that it is easier to travel to Dublin Port for most people than it is to get to Rosslare,” the company said. 

Our new WB Yeats ship will operate from Dublin to Cherbourg up to four days per week and is now available for booking.

Speaking to RTÉ News at One, Ross said that he “deeply regrets what’s happened” and that he wasn’t aware that the decision was being made. 

“We didn’t know it was going to happen and we will make every possible representation to ensure that Rosslare is not disadvantaged by this decision,” Ross said. 

Ross said that he has spoken to Irish Ferries chief executive Eamonn Rothwell about the announcement and that he expects to do so again. 

“I told him that what we said was off the record and I’ll keep it off the record, but vaguely what I can say is that he said it was a completely commercial decision and that it would increase the capacity between Dublin and Cherbourg. It would take an hour longer but it would actually increase the tourism and freight and have the capability of doing more business,” Ross said. 

“We’ll have to accept if he makes a commercial decision … we can’t tell him he can’t do it, that’s not the government’s business, and we’ll have to adjust,” he said. 

I’m going to ask them to reverse it, of course I am, and see what their response to that is. 

In a statement last night, Minister of State for Tourism Brendan Griffin said that he “noted” Irish Ferries’ communication regarding its Rosslare service.

“The service is an important transport service for the southeast region. From a tourism perspective, while it mainly facilitates Irish tourists holidaying in France, it also brings French and other European tourists to the southeast region,” Griffin said. 

“Given the importance of these services, I have asked my officials to engage with the company,” he said. 

Yesterday, Sinn Féin Brexit spokesperson David Cullinane said that Irish Ferries’ decision is “a big blow” to the southeast.

“With Brexit just over the horizon this decision is truly baffling,” Cullinane said.

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“I will be raising this issue directly with the Minister at the earliest opportunity.

For the southeast region to lose one of its main ferry routes to Europe would be an absolute disaster.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin also said that it was “shocking news”.

“They plan to abandon the Rosslare Europort and the shortest sea route to France just as #Brexit kicks in. Inexplicable. Demands a response from the government,” Howlin tweeted.

With reporting by Gráinne Ní Aodha

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