Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport, Darren O’Rourke TD has said the Irish Government must prepare a Brexit contingency plan for state supported shipping routes, as leaving it solely up to private shipping companies is a risky strategy for such a critical service.
Teachta O’Rourke was responding to a report from the Irish Maritime Development Office which examined our current shipping connections to the continent in light of a potential no-deal Brexit.
The Meath East TD said:
“An estimated 150,000 HGVs use the land bridge through Britain each year to bring goods to and from Ireland.
“If there is a no-deal Brexit, there could be chaos at the border between Dover and Calais, and even if a deal is secured by January 1st, additional border checks will undoubtedly lead to delays and substantial queues of freight traffic.
“The report from the Irish Maritime Development Office concludes that it is estimated, with existing supply, there are sufficient shipping connections to accommodate those who want to bypass Britain and sail direct to continental Europe.
“While this is reassuring, there are obvious gaps in the current services. We believe the Irish Government should prepare a contingency plan for state supported shipping routes, including PSO routes if necessary.
“Leaving it solely up to private companies to put these essential shipping connections in place is a risky strategy, particularly given the critical importance of these routes for food imports and exports.
“We don’t, for example, have direct sailing departures to the continent every day at the moment. Exports such as perishables, for example, depend on ‘just in time’ logistics and cannot afford such gaps in departure times.
“We believe the Government should prepare a contingency plan for state supported shipping routes to provide for routes that may not be commercially viable or that are not put in place by private shipping companies.
“The Minister should also consult with his colleagues in Stormont on this, to ensure an all-island approach is taken in developing or expanding direct shipping routes to continental Europe from our island.”