'Inexplicable' - Anger over decision to cancel Rosslare-France ferry service
Irish Ferries is "unlikely" to operate a service between Rosslare and France in 2019, it says
Irish Ferries is unlikely to operate a service between Rosslare and France next year, in a major blow to the south-east region.
Irish Continental Group (ICG), which is behind the ferry firm, claimed passengers had expressed a preference for travelling from Dublin.
"Irish Ferries wish to inform our customers that we're unlikely to operate a service between Rosslare and France in 2019," it said in a statement yesterday. "We continue to keep this situation under review.
"Our new WB Yeats ship will operate from Dublin to Cherbourg," it added.
Verona Murphy, president of the Irish Road Haulage Association, hit out at the announcement and said it made no sense.
"There's absolutely no reason why the WB Yeats can't operate from Rosslare," she said.
Irish Ferries wish to inform our customers that we're unlikely to operate a service between Rosslare & France in 2019. We continue to keep this situation under review. Our new W.B. Yeats ship will operate from Dublin to Cherbourg & is available to book on https://t.co/1rjF6XTLpL— Irish Ferries (@Irish_Ferries) December 18, 2018
Ms Murphy said hauliers would now look at using a different operator. Significantly more traffic would be forced on to the M50, she said, and she asked how the network would cope with this.
"You're sending families on the way to their holidays to an industrialised port and into the congestion of the M50."
Brendan Howlin, the Labour leader and Co Wexford TD, also criticised the plan.
He said the decision to abandon the shortest sea route to France just as Brexit kicks in was "inexplicable".
The ferry company claimed a majority of its customers have a "clear preference" for the more central location and easy access of Dublin.
Junior Transport Minister Brendan Griffin last night said that, given the importance of the service for the South East region, he has asked his officials to "engage with the company".
"From a tourism perspective, while it mainly facilitates Irish tourists holidaying in France, it also brings French and other European tourists to the South East region," he added.
Last year, up to 19,000 passengers had their holiday plans thrown into disarray after the company announced delays to the arrival of the WB Yeats ferry.
The €154m ship was due to start sailing between Ireland and France and the UK from July 30 last year, but all sailings up to September 13 were later cancelled.
The company has said it will finally arrive in Dublin this week.
In recent months, customers had taken to social media to express fear for their holidays as the company delayed publishing its French schedules for 2019.
Last month, ICG said the lack of clarity around the UK's exit of the EU "may have a negative impact on consumer sentiment".
The company's Rosslare-Pembroke route will operate as normal, it says.
Read more:Irish Ferries 'WB Yeats' to set sail after delays of several months