“France is now Ireland’s closest EU neighbour and Brittany the closest region to us,” said James Browne, Irish minister of state at the department of justice.
“This has created a Brexit bounce – even perhaps a Breton bounce — in our relations,” added Browne of the move to deepen links between Dublin and Paris by opening the facility at the port headquarters of Brittany Ferries.
“French businesses thrive in Ireland and France is one of the main markets for Ireland’s goods, services and agricultural products. We enjoy this freedom to travel and to trade through our shared European membership. Ireland is proud to celebrate 50 years of EU membership this year,” added Browne.
He underlined that “maritime connectivity has tripled and two-way trade in goods jumped by 18 percent last year” between the two countries.
Browne saluted Brittany Ferries president Jean-Marc Roue, named as honorary consul, as “a proud Breton”, whose “expertise and leadership in the areas of transport, agriculture and maritime issues will be a real asset in this new role.
“We value his counsel and will look to him to help us as we advance our common agenda for deepening Ireland-Brittany relations.
Stephane Perrin, vice-president of the Brittany region playfully welcomed the boost the move would afford “perspectives for partnership between French and Irish ports which we could not have guessed at, thanks to Brexit. Thank you Boris Johnson!”
Irish ambassador to France Niall Burgess said Brexit had created “new challenges for Ireland and for France. But where there are challenges there are also opportunities”.
Burgess said weekly crossings between Ireland and France had quadrupled inside the past two years from 12 to almost 50.
Roue stated passenger traffic between Ireland and France had risen 43 percent since 2019 and freight was up 15 percent.
Head of Enterprise Ireland France Patrick Torrekens said Irish companies were increasingly looking to maritime links to the continental mainland for their exchanges with fellow EU states rather than first having to go through now former EU member the United Kingdom.
That enabled them, said Torrekens to “avoid additional customs formalities” and potential delays.