THE FIRST live cattle shipments for seven weeks have left Irish shores, as sailings resumed between Rosslare and Cherbourg following the departure of P&O Ferries from the trade in December.

Celtic Link, which has purchased the MV Diplomat from P&O, is licensed to take up to 18 cattle trucks each voyage, and will be making the trip three times a week.

“Unlike P&O, we are quite happy to transport live animals and will be actively courting new business,” said company executive Seamus O‘Flaherty.

Farming groups have given strong support to the new venture, which is seen as essential to finding an outlet for around 200,000 young stock each year.

“Given the fact that many member states did not opt for full decoupling, we envisage an excellent market for calves and weanlings this spring,” said Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers‘ Association cattle chairman John O‘Leary.

Meanwhile, Mr O‘Flaherty confirmed that talks were ongoing with a large French shipper, CMA-CGM, with a view to their getting involved in the Rosslare-Cherbourg route to help grow the business on the dry freight side.