Irish consumers have been warned that food shortages are possible after the embattled ferry company P&O cancelled sailings for a week between Ireland and Great Britain.
The company said it had been unable to turn a profit recently as the number of bookings plummeted during the pandemic and have remained low ever since; in a bid to balance the books, on St Patrick’s Day 800 workers were sacked in a zoom call and replaced with cheaper foreign agency staff.
Eugene Drennan from the Irish Road Haulage Association says the news is another blow to Irish business:
“We just about have enough capacity on these routes since Brexit,” he told Newstalk.
“So the supply into Ireland is less than it used to be, so the sooner that we can get this ferry back running or some other ferry running the better.”
East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson, whose constituency includes the port of Larne where P&O ferries leave for Cairnryan in Scotland, said that the decision has already caused a huge amount of disruption for people in Northern Ireland:
“Their customers were given no warning,” Mr Wilson said.
“Of course, their customers rely on a daily service from Larne and many transport companies are left high and dry now with goods that they have to get either to Great Britain from Northern Ireland or from Great Britain into Northern Ireland.”
Britain’s Transport Minister Grant Shapps hit out at what he called, “The lack of engagement, of prior notice, or of any empathy whatsoever for your workers”.
While former British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who currently sits as an independent MP, said the British Government should consider nationalising the ferry company:
“They’ve behaved in a disgusting and disgraceful way by sacking 800 workers,” he said.
“What we’re demanding of the Government is immediate intervention - to say to P&O, ‘Stop, reinstate those 800 workers and if you don’t do that we’ll take over your assets.’”
Main image: A P&O worker closes the gate on the European Causeway ferry from Scotland in the port of Larne, Northern Ireland, 02-02-2021. Image: Peter Morrison/AP/Press Association Images