The ‘Save Our Shannon Stopover’ protests came to mind as politicians, mainly South East-based, predictably started jumping up and down at the announcement by Irish Ferries that it is “unlikely” to operate a Rosslare-France service in 2019, reports Neil Steedman.
The announcement said: “Irish Ferries wish to inform their customers that they are unlikely to operate a service between Rosslare and France in 2019. We continue to keep this situation under review.
“A majority of our customers have a clear preference for the more central location and easy access of Dublin. Our new W.B. Yeats ship will operate from Dublin to Cherbourg, with 20% greater passenger capacity up to four days per week and is now available for booking on Irishferries.com.”
The W.B. Yeats, which arrived into Dublin Port this morning, will probably sail from Dublin to Cherbourg in much the same time as the Oscar Wilde has been sailing from Rosslare to Cherbourg. Also, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that Dublin is more accessible than Rosslare for the vast majority of Irish Ferries’ customers on the island of Ireland – particularly with fast motorway access from the likes of Cork, Limerick and Kilkenny.
While Irish Ferries has had a somewhat difficult year, with the much delayed arrival of the W.B. Yeats and with the Ulysses being out of service for a month in the summer, these problems have, no doubt, emphasised more than ever the importance of having a ‘back-up’ ship for each route. However, the Oscar Wilde was built in 1986, and hence is now more than 32 years old, so if someone were to make an offer for the ship, Irish Ferries is likely to sell.
For 2019 Irish Ferries has the Dublin Swift, Ulysses and Epsilon in place for the Dublin-Holyhead route, the Isle of Inishmore for Rosslare-Pembroke, and the W.B. Yeats and Epsilon for Dublin-Cherbourg, with the Oscar Wilde not currently included in schedules. Then from summer 2020 the company’s new €165 million ‘super ferry’ for the Dublin-Holyhead route is scheduled for delivery (fingers crossed!), which would release the Ulysses for service elsewhere.