East Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Oliver McMullan has expressed his concern over the long-term viability of the Port of Larne, after it was revealed that passenger and vehicle numbers have declined significantly over the past few years.
Following recent reporting in the Larne Times, the Assembly member said: “I am deeply concerned over the long-term viability of Larne Port after it was revealed that passenger figures fell by 30,000 over the past year and are down by over 220,000 since 2010.
“There is also a large downturn in the number of vehicles using the port which has almost halved over the same period, down to less than 190,000 in 2013.”
He claimed: “If these trends were to continue then the long-term viability of the port must be called into question.”
Mr McMullan urged: “As one of the major employers in the East Antrim area, it is important that we secure the future of the port by making it more competitive and accessible. Larne has been a major port for many years and it is important that we look at improving the facilities and infrastructure to make it successful. It is also the main ferry terminal for the movement of livestock between here and Britain and has a dedicated facility in which animals are held before transportation.
“While the new dual carriageway from Larne to Belfast will help improve the situation, we need to do more to modernise and increase efficiency at the port.
“I will be requesting a meeting with the port authorities to discuss what plans they have to ensure the viability of the operation and how the jobs cannot only be secured but how we can expand services to create even more employment in the area. I also intend to raise it with the appropriate ministers at the Assembly, so that a focus can be put on securing the future of Larne Port.”