New tender sought for troubled ferry service

SDLP Colr. John Deighan and (at right) Sinn Fein Colr. Dermot Nicholl.
SDLP Colr. John Deighan and (at right) Sinn Fein Colr. Dermot Nicholl.

The troubled Foyle ferry service between Magilligan and Greencastle could be back in operation after Donegal County Council started a new tender process.

Potential operators have until April 28th to submit their application to take over the Magilligan to Greencastle ferry service. Donegal County Council said they “would not be making any further comment until the process is complete including any comment in relation to any subvention that may arise.”

SDLP councillor John Deighan welcomed the move by Donegal Council. He said “given the significant tourism output that it has shown over the years”, it appears Donegal Council is “taking tourism seriously and can see that it has a major impact on their local economy”.

Sinn Fein Colr. Dermot Nicholl said it shows councillors in Donegal “see the relevance of benefits of the ferry service”. He applauded how they had “taken the initiative to forge ahead”.

A majority vote at last week’s monthly Causeway Council meeting resulted in councillors voting against providing subvention in principle for the troubled service.

Both the SDLP and Sinn Fein are now challenging that decision.

SDLP councillor John Deighan said the decision “was taken without any of us having the full facts,” while Sinn Fein Colr. Dermot Nicholl said “it’s sending out the message ‘we are not open for business’.”

Causeway Council said the matters are “the subject of confidential consideration and Council is unable to comment at present.”

The ferry service stopped last October. Frazier Ferries had taken on the contract following a joint tender process between Causeway Council and Donegal Council.

However, they said they couldn’t continue with out subsidy meaning there is no ferry service at present.

Previously, Limavady Council and Donegal County Council had provided subvention for the service.