Dispute over whether or not port should be privatised
Members of Wexford County Council once again outlined their lack of faith in the way that Rosslare Europort is being run.
Wexford County Council had been asked to submit its recommendations on the running of the port to aid in a review by the Competition Authority into the Competition in the Irish Ports Sector, and a strategic review undertaken by the Department of Transport.
The submission stated that 'Wexford County Council do not believe that retaining the current ownership structure within CIE is the appropriate mechanism for developing the Port. The activity of the Port does not constitute a core business activity for the company or support in any significant way their core business.'
The idea of creating an independent port authority was once again put forward in the council's submission and was something that was supported by Cllr George Lawlor.
'I welcome this submission and the recommendation of establishing and independent port authority,' Cllr Lawlor said. 'We've all said that the present ownership is prohibiting growth. However I'd like to recommend we change the part where we say the council 'is not opposed to sale to private market'. It would be a precarious position if the port was privatised. It could prevent maximum traffic if one company should become sole owner.'
Cllr Malcolm Byrne didn't share Cllr Lawlor's concern.
'I wouldn't necessarily agree that there's no place for private ownership,' he said. 'Rosslare Europort should be an engine to drive the local economy. The people in charge should be those with the most experience in the sector, whether they are public or private.'
Cllr Declan MacPartlin was firmly in favour of a private company taking over the running of Rosslare, saying: 'I haven't heard anyone say that State involvement has done anything for Rosslare. We should give the private sector a chance.'
Cllr Padge Reck was concerned for jobs in the port. 'According to the trade union, there are 80 people in well-paid jobs in Rosslare and they want to know what will happen to them. I suggest that we meet with the trade unions and give them an input into it. The fear that I would have is that those 80 people will be replaced by yellow-pack workers.'
This notion was dismissed by Tony Larkin as 'inappropriate'. County Manager Adrian Doyle called for the councillors to focus on the matter at hand, saying: 'This document is about the structure of the port, not about unions and jobs.'
Cllr Reck maitained that his point was a valid one. 'It is written into this document that we are not opposed to privitisation. I don't want to be associated with this. I will fight privitisation all the way.'
Whether in favour of private ownership or the establishment of an independent port authority, the councillors were unanimous in their disapproval of how CIE are running Rosslare Europort and will look for a change of ownership.