Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Rosslare-Le Havre Car Ferry.

9.

andMr. S. Browne asked the Minister for Transport and Power if his attention has been drawn to a press report (details supplied) about the resumption of the RosslareLe Havre car ferry service and if he will make a statement on the matter.

10.

andMr. Donegan asked the Minister for Transport and Power if he is yet in a position to indicate if any arrangements have been made to provide a car ferry service between Rosslare and Le Havre.

11.

andMr. Kavanagh asked the Minister for Transport and Power if Irish Shipping have made arrangements to resume the Rosslare-Le Havre car ferry service; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 9, 10 and 11 together.

Irish Shipping Ltd., with my approval, have entered into an agreement with Lion Ferry of Sweden, and Fearnley & Eger of Norway, for the operation of a new car-ferry service on the Rosslare-France route, commencing June, 1973. The new service, which replaces the Normandy Ferries service withdrawn last year, will operate on an all year round basis.

The early re-introduction of the Continental link was made possible by the fact that the Swedish company held an option on favourable terms with a German shipyard, for a new car-ferry with passenger and car accommodation suitable for the Rosslare route, and a delivery date for early in the 1973 tourist season. The new £4 million ferry will have cabin accommodation for 540 passengers and space for 200 cars. The 21 knot ferry will fly the Irish Flag and be owned 50 per cent by Irish Shipping Ltd. and 25 per cent each by Lion Ferry and Fearnley & Eger.

As a result of the 50 per cent shareholding of Irish Shipping Ltd. in the new ship, there should be no recurrence of the premature abandonment of the service as happened in the case of the Normandy Ferries Service. The accommodation and facilities on the new ship will be of an even higher standard.

The reply is good news for all concerned for 1973, but I would like to ask the Minister whether there is any hope of bringing this arrangement forward to the coming summer season?

We made every effort to achieve what the Deputy suggests should be done. This is what we would like to have done but the deal made was the best we could make in view of all the circumstances.

I, too, welcome this arrangement. However, is it within the power of the Minister's inspectors to ensure that the new ferry is run to a higher standard of cleanliness and general personal satisfaction than at least one of the Normandy Ferries ships which, to my personal knowledge, was disgraceful and uncomfortable?

I agree fully with the Deputy. I have no sympathy whatever for Normandy Ferries in their various operations and in particular the manner in which we were left holding the baby, as it were. This new arrangement, with a 50 per cent participation by us, will ensure continuation. That was not the situation when we had no financial participation.