Councillors move to save ferry service

by Gazette Reporter
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THERE was unanimous agreement on an emergency motion to discuss Stena Line’s withdrawal of ferry services over the Christmas period.
Cllrs John and Maria Bailey (FG) asked the chief executive to suspend standing orders at a Dun Laoghaire local area committee meeting.
Councillors are calling for other ferry operators to be allowed to take over the Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead route over Christmas following the cancellation by Stena Line of all ferry services from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead over the festive season for “commercial and operational reasons”.
Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company is now in talks with the ferry company about the future of the service for 2015.
Cllr Victor Boyhan (Ind) said: “Councillors united at Dun Laoghaire council meeting, calling for a special meeting with Stena Line management to seek details of their masterplan and commitment to Dun Laoghaire Harbour as a travel destination.”
Sailings were due to run from December 20 until early January 2015. Customers who have booked to travel on these sailings will be accommodated on other sailings.
A Stena Line statement said: “In recent years Stena Line has deployed the HSS [Stena Explorer] for a few days over the Christmas holiday period on its Holyhead-Dun Laoghaire service. For commercial and operational reasons, the company has decided not to reactivate the vessel this year for the short Christmas holiday…Stena Line is currently engaged in ongoing discussions with Dun Laoghaire Harbour in relation to the provision of a seasonal fast-craft service in 2015.”
Gerry Dunne, chief executive of the harbour company, said: “While it is regrettable that the HSS won’t be sailing out of Dun Laoghaire this Christmas, we look forward to a continued relationship with Stena in 2015 and beyond.”
The harbour company said it was also heavily focused on building the volume of cruise calls for the 2015 and 2016 seasons, and beyond. The schedule of the fast ferry has been reduced for the past four years.
Cllr Boyhan said: “This news was unexpected and disappointing. I hope it is not the beginning of a total withdrawal of Stena Line services from Dun Laoghaire Harbour. The town of Dun Laoghaire benefits economically from passing through passengers. The Christmas period brings added footfall so any reduction of trade will impact on local businesses.”

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