1. ITV Report

Concerns over Irish ferry routes as fuel costs rocket

The number of people using ferries across the Irish Sea has been in decline since 2007 Photo: ITV News Wales

Ireland's Transport Minister says the Welsh and Irish Government's need to work closer together to arrest declines in the number of people using cross Irish sea ferry services. Speaking at a meeting of Assembly Members in Dublin as part of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly he said the links were important for economic recovery.

A recent submission by Irish Ferries reveals the Irish Sea markets peaked in 2007 and has been in decline with the company admitting there is far too much capacity, for both freight and passenger traffic while fuel costs are escalating for ferry operations.

Irish Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said fuel costs have means some fast ferries have become less frequent and said greater co-operation could tempt more tourists to use the services.

For the Republic of Ireland, Wales is our closest neighbour and the links between Dublin and Holyhead are huge and also the link with Fishguard is very important and I think we can build on, certainly in tourism and building up those transport links.

– Leo Varadkar, Irish Transport Minister

A delegation from the Assembly were in Dublin as part of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, a body that includes representatives of the Scottish Parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Welsh Assembly, the High Court of Tynwald and the States of Guernsey and Jersey. Two plenary sessions, attended by 68 members, are held every year alternately in Britain and Ireland with ongoing work by four committees.

Services from Swansea to Cork were cut in September 2011 after the operators Fastnet Lines blamed increasing fuel costs. A number of fast ferries from Holyhead to Ireland operated by Stena Line have also been cut.