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Howlin calls for Rosslare Europort to become a Tier One port

11 July 2018

Statement by Brendan Howlin TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Northern Ireland

Labour Party Leader, Brendan Howlin TD has called for Rosslare Europort to be upgraded to a tier one port in the context of Brexit.

Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Howlin said:

“Rosslare Europort is particularly well-placed for development, as it is the nearest port to continental Europe and therefore strategically important.

“The logic of that is simply that Dublin Port is hugely focused on shipping to Britain. 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.

“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. It would also lower Carbon emissions for Rosslare to take more of this traffic.

“As such, 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 at present, followed by Waterford.

“Rosslare Europort is currently operated by Irish Rail as opposed to a separate port company, which is a unique arrangement. It has remained profitable throughout the downturn but it does not generate the kind of return that would enable the major investment that is badly needed to upgrade the facilities. Among the needs of the port are dredging to deal with silting caused by winter storms, modernisation of the facilities and general maintenance.

“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.

“There is also a need for a region-wide plan to ensure that Rosslare Europort is fully served by the infrastructure it needs to expand the volume of Irish exports it can take. For example, while the Enniscorthy by-pass on the M11 will be completed within months, it was always understood that the next phase would be to extend and improve the road all the way to the port. Crucially, this would involve upgrading 32 kilometres of the N11/N25 roads to motorway, stretching from Oilgate to Rosslare Harbour. Access to the harbour itself it on a relatively narrow road that creates a bottleneck for goods transport and this needs to be urgently resolved.

“It is one thing to talk about the overall volume of goods and services traded between Ireland and the UK, and the possibility of Ireland finding new markets for some of its goods. But when we discuss the nature of the goods we export to Britain and the condition of our ports and other infrastructure, 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.”