SDLP MLA John Dallat said the “brisk service” on the Foyle Ferry Service over the weekend shows it is needed and wanted.
Sailings between Greencastle and Magilligan resumed after several weeks tied up, and after Limavady Borough Council agreed to set aside €10,000 euro (£8,300) to match the contribution from Donegal County Council.
The €20,000 euro (£16,600) total will be used as a deficit fund if there is a loss of profit for operators, Foyle Ferry Company Ltd.
Among those using the service during the St. Patrick’s day weekend was Mr. Dallat who said despite the limited opportunity for advertising and promoting the resumption of the service business was brisk with very few empty spaces on the ‘Foyle Voyager’.
“There were several cars with English registrations indicating the tourist potential of this service if only the Assembly and the Dail would get their heads together and acknowledge that to ensure it has a long-term future there must be financial support from both governments,” he said. “It is mind-boggling that in an era post the Good Friday Agreement and the existence of cross-border bodies dealing with many aspects of life there appears to be failure to address the issue of a ferry service across the Foyle. Plans must be in place years ahead particularly where a ferry service is involved which clearly entices tourists from both parts to cross over and fill empty beds both in Inishowen and the Causeway Coast. Every day we manage to keep tourists up North whether it is in Donegal or Derry is creating jobs, badly needed jobs which would be sustainable if the ferry service had a little public finance to ensure it isn’t just seasonal and prices are kept to a realistic level. It is not rocket science and we have no need to look any further than the Strangford Ferry Service which costs £2 million pounds per year to run. The Foyle service isn’t asking for anything like that amount of money yet the only answer I have been able to wring out of the Department of Regional Development is: ‘We were not involved at the beginning and it does to another jurisdiction!”