Dáil Éireann - Volume 384 - 16 November, 1988

Written Answers. - Sea Transport.

20. Mr. Griffin asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if his attention has been drawn to the fact that with the completion of the Channel Tunnel, Ireland will be the sole member of the EC which will not be physically linked to mainland Europe; if he will request financial assistance from the EC towards the construction of an Irish Sea tunnel in order that Ireland will not be disadvantaged.

32. Mr. Barry asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if he will conduct a study of the feasibility of building a tunnel between Ireland and Great Britain; and if he will examine the possibility of a railway ferry to facilitate the transport of Irish goods to the continent after 1992.

Minister for Tourism and Transport (Mr. Wilson): With the permission of the Ceann Comhairle I propose to take Questions Nos. 20 and 32 together.

I am fully aware that the completion of the Single European Market by the end of 1992, and the opening of the channel tunnel between Britain and France in the [678] Spring of 1993, are major developments which call for new initiatives in Irish transport policy over the next four years.

In so far as an Irish Sea tunnel is concerned, an assessment carried out by my Department found that the costs involved could exceed £15 billion, over twice the cost of the Britain-France tunnel, while the potential usage is estimated at less than 20 per cent of that predicted for the Britain-France tunnel. While the economics of an Irish Sea tunnel therefore rule it out as a serious option, all realistic options including a railway ferry are being examined with a view to seeking EC financial assistance and ensuring that Ireland will not be further disadvantaged by the completion of the Channel Tunnel.