Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council has come in for criticism over the Foyle Ferry tender process.
The former operators, Foyle Ferry Company Ltd, stopped the service last November and did not renew the contract for the summer season.
The service will be offered for an initial three-year period, from June 1st, 2016 to May 31st, 2019. Tenderers will have the options to extend the contract for a further two periods of two years each. However, unlike previously, there will be no subvention from either Council which,some worry, could put off potential operators.
SDLP Colr. Gerry Mullan is concerned the restoration of the Foyle Ferry Service “may not be up and running this year because there is no clear indication as to what is expected of those who may wish to express an interest in running the service.
“This issue is not being treated with the urgency it deserves and there is a distinct lack of appreciation of the need to do everything possible to restore the connectivity between County Derry and County Donegal through the operation of the ferry service,” said Colr. Mullan.
The issue of the ferry was also raised at a recent Inishowen Municipal District meeting when Fine Gael councillor Bernard McGuinness told of his “disappointment” in the delay in the tendering process, stating it should have been completed “two months ago.” He said while it would be “inappropriate” to comment further while the tendering process is ongoing, he was “concerned.” He said he was also “disappointed” elected members “were not consulted properly” in relation to this.
When asked back in April if it had taken eight weeks for officials to respond to Donegal County Council about documentation regarding the tender, a Causeway Council spokesperson said: “Council can confirm that it did not take eight weeks to respond to Donegal County Council with documentation about the tender.
“This was a collaborated process involving both Councils.”