Howlin calls for Rosslare upgrade
Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin has called for Rosslare Europort to be upgraded to a Tier One port in the context of Brexit.
Addressing the Dail last week, the Wexford TD said the port is well-placed for development due to it being the nearest Irish one to continental Europe.
Commenting that it is strategically important he said the fact Dublin Port is primarily focussed on Britain means Rosslare needs to be utilised to maximum effect if trade is to be shifted to Europe.
'If we want to shift even a fraction of this trade to continental Europe then we should develop the port that is nearest to our export markets,' he said in the Dail.
'It makes no economic sense for goods to be transported from across Munster to Dublin only to be shipped south within sight of Rosslare on their way to the continent,' he added.
'We should envisage upgrading Rosslare Europort to become a Tier One port like Dublin, Cork or Foynes, as opposed to being the largest Tier Two port, as it is at present, followed by Waterford,' he said.
He commented on the unique fact that the port is operated by Irish Rail as opposed to a separate port company and while acknowledging that it has remained profitable throughout the downturn said it doesn't generate the kind of return that would enable the major investment required to upgrade its facilities.
Deputy Howlin said dredging, modernisation of the facilities, and general maintenance are required.
He went on to comment there is an argument for establishing a publicly owned Independent Port Authority for Rosslare 'to ensure a singular focus on maritime and shipping issues'.
'Such an Independent Port Authority could be formally linked to Wexford County Council as its local authority,' he said.
In addition to the status and work required at the port itself Deputy Howlin said there is a need for a region-wide plan to ensure Rosslare is served by the infrastructure needed for it to expand the volume of Irish exports it can handle.
He cited the road infrastructure serving the port as being something that needs to be looked at and said 'it was always understood' that the next phase of road development in the wake of the Enniscorthy by-pass being completed was in relation to the N11/N25 to Rosslare Port.
'This would involve upgrading 32km of the N11/N25 roads to motorway, stretching from Oilgate to Rosslare Harbour,' he said.
'Access to the harbour itself is on a relatively narrow road that creates a bottleneck for goods transport and this needs to be urgently resolved,' he added.
'We are faced with the stark reality that much more preparation work is needed to ensure that Ireland's economy is cushioned for the inevitable negative impact of Brexit.'
The status of the port has also been raised in Wexford County Council's chamber by Cllrs George Lawlor and Cllr Jim Moore on a number of occasions.