Written answers

Thursday, 16 December 2021

Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport

Ports Policy

Photo of Verona MurphyVerona Murphy (Wexford, Independent)
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45. To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the engagement he has had with the relevant stakeholders to secure additional freight capacity through Rosslare Europort to further support the import and export trade and supply chain management; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [62293/21]

Photo of Hildegarde NaughtonHildegarde Naughton (Galway West, Fine Gael)
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My Department, in conjunction with the IMDO, have been keeping the issue of direct shipping routes to the Continent under close review both in the context of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic. Since January 2019, there have been very regular discussions with shipping companies and other maritime stakeholders about the issue of maritime connectivity. In that time, we have consistently received strong assurances from the shipping companies that if there is an increase in demand for shipping capacity on direct routes to Continental Europe, they would respond.

This assertion has been borne out. We have witnessed throughout 2020 and 2021 an unprecedented response from the shipping industry in terms of increasing capacity to match market demand. It has occurred across all relevant modes and has drawn from all available responses. These responses include (1) utilization of surplus capacity, (2) increasing capacity by altering schedules, (3) redeploying vessels within their fleets, and (4) adding new capacity in the form of additional vessels.

New/additional direct ferry links with increased capacity including to Cherbourg, Dunkerque, Zeebrugge, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Roscoff, Le Havre and Santander have come on stream and are seeing high demand. These responses and the new services launched over this and last year demonstrate the commitment of the shipping companies to the Irish market.

Overall, Brexit has been a positive boost for Rosslare Europort with the largest growth of any port in the number of direct European services with sailings increasing from three a week in January 2020 to 14 return journeys currently (28 weekly). Since early 2021 new services have been commenced by DFDS to Dunkirk and by Stena Line and Brittany Ferries to Cherbourg and most recently to Le Havre.

In terms of where this increased direct traffic has been handled, Rosslare Europort has captured more of the increase in ROI – EU RoRo traffic, in proportional terms. Of the 142,000 additional RoRo units carried in the first nine months of 2021, approximately 49% travelled through Rosslare Europort. Since 2015, Rosslare represented c.14% of ROI – EU traffic. In 2021, it represents approx. 31%.

It is clear, that when market demand is demonstrated to be there, shipping operators respond and capacity is added, and is added quickly. It is vital that the haulage sector and businesses continue to engage with shipping operators to clearly communicate their needs. I will continue to keep a close eye on developments, in conjunction with the Department and the IMDO.


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