The Workers’ Party have called for all ferry companies to accept foot and bicycle passengers, in light of the urgent need to decrease the country’s carbon emissions. The call comes as both Irish Ferries (on their Epsilon sailings to France and the UK), and Brittany Ferries (on their Santander crossing), introduce car-only ferry sailings, which completely exclude passengers traveling by rail, foot or bicycle.
Cathie Shiels, the party’s representative in Ballymun-Finglas, said:
“I was approached by a constituent who attempted to plan a trip to mainland Europe by rail and ferry, only to discover that, from October to March, all of Irish Ferries’ Dublin-France crossings are available only to those boarding by car.
“This goes completely against the country’s urgent need to reduce our carbon emissions. As an island, ferry travel will need to become an integral part of how we are connected to the world – and, more to the point, ferry travel which is linked to high quality rail connections, and does not rely on private car usage.”
“Deutsche-Bahn, the German national rail company, have now introduced emergency measures to reduce the cost of rail travel, and incentivise people to travel around Europe by train. For Ireland, an island, to follow suit, the government must take steps to make ferry travel faster, cheaper and more convenient.
“What would this look like? Additional subsidies for sail-rail journeys, an overhaul of rail connections to all of our major ports to ensure connectivity, co-ordination between Irish Rail, ferry companies and UK and continental rail companies to maximise connection speeds, and, most importantly, removing any barriers to rail/foot passengers accessing a ferry service.”
“Essentially, what the “car only” restriction means is that only those willing to use their own private, polluting car are able to minimise flying out of Ireland. This is typical of the sort of incoherence of a Fine Gael / private sector approach to climate change. Only a state-led, planned transition can do what is necessary to avert crisis.
“Finally, the mess proves the need for a national ferry company, which can treat its workers well and be used for public and environmental good instead of greed and private gain.”