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 Header Item Trans European Transport Network Programme (Continued)
 Header Item Ports Development

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 976 No. 5

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher] I would like to think the Minister will pass on my views to the TII and ensure that the selection will not have adverse effects on the town. The route from Letterkenny to Manorcunningham, which is the Bonagee link, is vital and it is important that those along the route have an input. After the Manorcunningham to Lifford route is constructed to link up with the A5, it will ensure that through the A5 and M2 there will be a motorway all the way to Dublin. It is important the Minister makes my views known to the TII and ensure we can progress quickly.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross I assure the Deputy I will make his views known to the TII. I will make sure they are passed on. He should not underestimate the cost of the project, which is €400 million. It is split approximately as follows: section 1 from Ballybofey and Stranorlar will cost €115 million; section 2 from Letterkenny to Manorcunningham will cost €99 million; and section 3 from Manorcunningham to Lifford and Strabane, which is the A5 link, will cost €186 million. These are only estimates and the budget costs will be clear when the projects progress to business case stage.

The TEN-T projects in Donegal form part of the designated comprehensive network. The Deputy will be familiar with the TEN-T regulation targets from his time at the European Parliament. In Donegal, the TEN-T includes the N15 as far as the junction with the N13, the N13 to Letterkenny and onto the Border and the N14. In June, the European Commission published a proposal for a new regulation for the connecting Europe facility, CEF, which is the funding instrument for the European transport network, to come into effect from 1 January 2021. The comprehensive cross-Border road link between Dublin, Strabane and Letterkenny is included in the annexe to the proposal, meaning the Irish elements of the route could, in principle, apply for CEF funding when the regulation comes into effect.

Deputy Pat The Cope Gallagher: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher While all of these are important - I hope we all live to see them - and they will be of major benefit to Donegal, if they can be expedited, they should be because they should be Brexit-proofed. Whatever the outcome of Brexit, Donegal will be more affected than any other part so it is vital we have a motorway right through to Dublin. This is not the end of developments in Donegal. I acknowledge the work being done on the N56 in Mountcharles, Inver, my area of Glenties, Dungloe and around the coast. It is important there are linkages from the north, west and east of the county into the TEN-Ts as otherwise only one part of the county might benefit. We want to ensure a proper road structure throughout. I acknowledge the work done on the N56 and we are grateful to the TII.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross The most important point the Deputy made - and I do not in any way suggest the others were not important - was the fact that Donegal, as are other Border counties, is looking on the arrival of Brexit with a certain degree of trepidation. It is important to the Deputy and his colleagues that Donegal does not suffer as a result of Brexit but this is in flux. In these circumstances, the Border areas of Donegal, Monaghan, Cavan and others that have made special pleadings in the House have the right to be looked upon sympathetically and I will do so.

The Deputy has made a good case. The situation with TEN-T funding is something upon which we cannot depend but irrespective of the funding mechanism, every opportunity will be taken to access any EU funding that may be available and appropriate for the projects the Deputy has mentioned. I assure him that the matter will be kept under review and that I will convey his views to the TII.

  Question No. 7 replied to with Written Answers.

Ports Development

 8. Deputy James Browne Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross the position regarding development plans for Rosslare Europort; if his Department is in contact with the CEO of the port regarding its future development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51954/18]

Deputy James Browne: Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne This question is to ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding the development plans for Rosslare Europort and whether the Department has been in contact with the CEO of the port regarding its future development.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross Rosslare Europort is unique among the State-owned ports, as it is not a commercial company operating under the Harbours Acts but is instead operated as a division of Iarnród Éireann.

Iarnród Éireann recently completed a detailed report on Rosslare and a €15 million plan to transform Rosslare Europort has been approved by the board of Irish Rail. Investment in the port is a matter for the company and Iarnród Éireann is examining how it will raise the capital necessary for planned investment. I understand that the company also intends to appoint a business development and sales manager to promote the port. Last week, Iarnród Éireann and Rosslare Europort briefed my Department on the company's plan for strategic development of the port over the coming years.

The Deputy will be interested to know that there is also ongoing engagement between my Department and the port on Brexit. The efficiency of Ireland's logistics sector has been built up over many years on the basis of the advantages provided under the Single Market. Brexit has the potential to disrupt this logistics supply chain. In response, a whole-of-Government approach has been adopted on our key ports and airports through the establishment of an interdepartmental committee.

The OPW, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Health, supported by my Department and other Departments, are working together with Rosslare Europort to plan to manage and minimise any impacts that may arise at the port as a result of Brexit. Plans are being developed under both a central case scenario and a no-deal scenario to minimise any future disruption to the port as a result of the UK becoming a third country. Over the past months, there have been numerous meetings between Rosslare Europort and the individual Departments to identify the requirements for the port and to plan for their establishment. The port authorities have also met on a couple of occasions with the full interdepartmental committee.

The Deputy may recall that I visited Rosslare Europort earlier this year at the invitation of my ministerial colleague, Deputy Paul Kehoe, and was briefed by the europort's management on its commercial position. This was a particularly valuable opportunity for me as Minister to witness the central role that Rosslare Europort plays within the economy of Wexford and the wider south east, and to see at first hand its potential in terms of future development as a vital part of our country’s trading infrastructure.

Deputy James Browne: Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne I thank the Minister. As he and the Department know, I have raised the issue of Rosslare Europort on almost a weekly basis since I came into the Dáil. It is a source of frustration in Wexford and the south east that the significant potential of the port has not been developed. In the face of Brexit, and what we are witnessing in the UK where the situation is varying from farce to effective chaos, the situation of Rosslare Europort has become acute. I understand the OPW is looking at putting in additional facilities. The manager of Rosslare Europort told Wexford County Council three weeks ago it would take approximately three years to put the facilities in place. Brexit, which is increasingly looking like a hard Brexit, is happening in less than three months. This time last year, I asked the Minister to raise the ownership issue when he met the UK Minister with responsibility for transport. As I understand it, there are no political or economic reasons Rosslare Europort and Fishguard Port cannot be separated. What it requires is minor legislation in the Parliaments in Dublin and Westminster to separate the company into two different ports. Rosslare Europort could then act as a stand-alone port.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane Ross Zoom on Shane Ross The Deputy probably put his finger on it when he mentioned Brexit as being such a sword of Damocles over so many places. However, it might also provide opportunities for Rosslare. The advent of Brexit might or might not provide opportunities. There will have to be changes in many of the ports and Rosslare will not be immune from them.

I am sure the Deputy is aware the process of agreeing the future trade relationship between the UK and EU, including Ireland, is at a sensitive stage as we speak. Clearly the outcome of the process will have implications for this country's ports, notably Rosslare Europort, in view of its position as an import-export trading route to mainland Europe for those businesses that now or in the future may wish to consider alternatives to the use of the UK land bridge, which is a pivotal issue for people in Rosslare.

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