The government has designated five ferry routes as "public service obligation routes" and agreed to provide a €15 million emergency package to ferry companies to keep supply lines open during the COVID-19 crisis.
The Irish Independent quotes minister Paul Kehoe as saying, "This emergency measure is extremely welcome given the huge collapse in tourism that is affecting the entire industry. It is also vital to ensure the protection of supply chains."
The routes that have been designated as "public service obligation routes", which are currently being supported until the end of June, operate between Rosslare in Co. Wexford and Cherbourg in France, Bilbao in Spain, and Pembroke and Fishguard in South Wales, and between Dublin and Cherbourg. They are operated by Irish Ferries, Stena Line and Brittany Ferries.
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Transport minister Shane Ross said that the five routes "are of strategic importance to Ireland because they ensure the robustness and resilience of Ireland's lifeline supply chain, which is critically important at this time for the movement of goods, including food and medical supplies, into and out of Ireland."
The Department of Transport stated that the €15 million emergency package "will be targeted at compensating the gap between specified costs and revenues generated on the services", but hauliers and transport firms "will continue to pay shipping companies for the services on these routes as usual".
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