Monday 21 January 2019

Irish Ferries 'WB Yeats' arrives in Dublin amidst Rosslare controversy

€147m vessel arrives shortly after company announces likely decision to axe Rosslare-France routes

The new Irish Ferries ship W.B.Yeats arrives into Dublin Port. Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland.
The new Irish Ferries ship W.B.Yeats arrives into Dublin Port. Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland.
The new Irish Ferries ship W.B.Yeats arrives into Dublin Port. Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland.
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

After months of delays and a fresh controversy over the likely axing of its Rosslare-France services next year, the WB Yeats has docked in Dublin.

The €147 million ferry arrived in Dublin Port today after a journey from its German shipyard via stops in Cherbourg and Rosslare.

The latter came after the surprise announcement this week that the company is "unlikely" to sail between Rosslare and France next year.

"Irish Ferries wish to inform our customers that we're unlikely to operate a service between Rosslare and France in 2019," it said, offering no further clarity or certainty on its wording, despite requests for comment from Independent.ie.

Instead, the 1,800-passenger WB Yeats will sail up to four times a week between Dublin and Cherbourg, a decision the company claims is due to a majority of its customers having a "clear preference" for the Dublin service.

The decision - believed to be a commercial one - has created a storm of controversy and been queried by customers, politicians and hauliers.

The new Irish Ferries ship W.B.Yeats arrives into Dublin Port. Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland.
The new Irish Ferries ship W.B.Yeats arrives into Dublin Port. Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland.

Asked why the word "unlikely" featured in its statement, or what survey or information prompted its conclusion about customers' route preferences, Irish Ferries has not offered any further clarification to Independent.ie.

Yesterday, Verona Murphy, president of the Irish Road Haulage Association, said the decision would drive significantly more traffic onto the M50.

"You're sending families on the way to their holidays to an industrialised port and into the congestion of the M50," she said.

In a press release today heralding the "majestic" new vessel's arrival, Irish Ferries made no mention of the Rosslare controversy, nor its months-long delay - a setback caused by what German shipbuilder Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft & Co.KG described this summer as "delays in the delivery of interior components for public areas and on the electrical system installation in the hull and deckhouse".

Delays were followed by the late publication of its French schedules for 2019, which recently led customers to express fear for their holidays.

Built for service between Ireland, France and Britain, the 51,388-tonne WB Yeats will sail to France between mid-March and September.

Read more:

'Inexplicable' - Anger over decision to cancel Rosslare-France ferry service

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