UK Provides Aid for Ferry Operators
Ferry routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland have been safeguarded, thanks to a multimillion-pound government scheme to help ensure critical freight can continue to move into and across the union.
The package, worth up to £17 million ($21 million), is being funded by the U.K. government and the Northern Ireland Executive and will be made available to operators so that they can continue running freight services on five sea routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced further funding, worth tens of millions of pounds, will also be made available to support more routes across the U.K., subject to discussions with operators.
"Essential supplies are continuing to flow well, but operators are facing challenges as fewer people traveling means less capacity to move goods," Shapps said. "Today’s action will help ensure we have the freight capacity we need across the U.K. This funding will help ferry operators protect our supply chain and maintain the flow of critical goods across the Irish Sea and throughout the union."
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, said, "Although this coronavirus outbreak has reduced travel demand, this support package from the UK government and Northern Ireland Executive will ensure that essential ferry routes are kept open and vital transport links across the entire U.K. are safeguarded, guaranteeing the continued supply of critical goods, such as food and medical supplies."
The NI Minister for Infrastructure, Nichola Mallon, added, "Keeping our critical routes open across these islands for the supply of foods, goods and medicines is absolutely critical in our fight against COVID-19. This support package will protect our ferry operators and ensure that vital supply chains are maintained."
Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack, said, "We have been clear that the UK government will do what is necessary to protect our economy during the current Coronavirus pandemic. That includes safeguarding the essential ferry routes between Scotland and Northern Ireland.
"I know just how vital the busy services in and out of Cairnryan are. It is essential we keep them going for the economies of both Northern Ireland and the south-west of Scotland. "
Today the UK, French and Irish governments pledged to work together on temporary measures to ensure COVID-19 does not threaten vital freight routes between the countries.
Shapps, Irish Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, and French Minister of Transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, said the nations are united by trade which has thrived through the most difficult of times, and that they will continue to engage closely to help keep freight moving between the nations.