Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Ó hOisín has called for “a commitment to the Greencastle to Magilligan ferry from both Donegal and Limavady councils and the Assembly”.
The East Derry assemblyman was speaking after Minister Danny Kennedy revealed Limavady Borough Council and Donegal County Council had received one application to operate the service on the basis of no financial subvention from either Council.
The Regional Development minister was asked by Catriona Ruane, in a written question “given the recent speculation around the establishment of a Greencastle - Greenore Ferry, what progress has been made on the preservation and subvention for the Greencastle - Magilligan Ferry in order to maintain it for the North West region”.
In a reply on February 12, the minister stated: “The member will know that my Department has no statutory powers in relation to ferry services that go outside Northern Ireland (shipping is a reserved matter), it was not involved in setting up this service and it has no responsibility for its operation. The provision of a ferry service between Magilligan and Greencastle was undertaken by Limavady and Donegal Councils and is operated by a private company. This would also apply to any proposed service between Greencastle in County Down and Greenore.
“The Member may be aware that the two Councils recently invited applications from those interested in operating a ferry service between Magilligan and Greencastle for a three year period from 1st April 2013. I understand one application was received to operate the service on the basis of no financial subvention from either Council.”
Mr. O’hOisin believes “With a focus on tourism on the North West it is important that we maintain the Greencastle to Magilligan ferry”.
“This service has grown in popularity and I believe that with a focus on tourism in the North West, with Derry hosting the City of Culture, that there is an opportunity to make this service viable with a small subvention,” said MLA O’hOisin, adding: “I would call on both Donegal and Limavady Councils to work with the Assembly to make sure that this piece of infrastructure is maintained as part of the tourism strategy for the region.”