Foyle Port plan for €30m-€50m Greencastle cruise liner facility still afloat

Foyle Port boss Brian McGrath has said plans to develop a multi-million euro deep water terminal for cruise ships at Greencastle remain on course.

Mr. McGrath said the port has estimated the massive infrastructure project is likely to cost between €30m and €50m.

Foyle Port had been ready to proceed with a detailed design for the new berthing facility just as the coronavirus pandemic arrived on these shores, Mr. McGrath told members of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

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“We had identified Greencastle as a natural deep water harbour. It lends itself very naturally to exploiting our tourist productions on both sides of the border.

Foyle Port

“So consistent with [Irish] government policy and Executive policy what we were trying to do was to look to plug the gap that exists in the north west,” he told TDs, senators and MPs.

Mr. McGrath said the development would facilitate the arrival of major liners which are currently unable to berth in the Derry area. The big cruise ships currently drop anchor outside Greencastle harbour and passengers are then brought ashore on Foyle Port tenders.

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“In the cruise industry around Ireland you go from Cork to Dublin to Belfast and then you have this kind of lack of infrastructure up in the Foyle where we currently do around 12, maybe 13, cruise ships notwithstanding COVID. That was where we tender people either side to either Magilligan or Greencastle but we don’t have a physical asset big enough to bring the ships alongside,” he said.

Prior to the arrival of COVID-19, discussions were ongoing with Donegal County Council on the Greencastle berthing proposal.

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Greencastle Harbour.

“We were in close contact with Donegal County Council and just around the time that lockdown came we were keen to develop a detailed design for this project,” said Mr. McGrath.

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He also told the committee Foyle Port is taking ownership of the Magilligan port terminal which is currently owned by Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.

He said Derry and Donegal are uniquely situated to exploit the north coast’s tourism potential.

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“What we see is a way in which Foyle Port can link up the Wild Atlantic Way with the Causeway Coast side of things which really gives opportunities to come to Ireland - to go to Glenveagh and to the developments in the Republic, or to go to the North Antrim coast or go into the city of Derry.”

Foyle Port believes the development would attract more big liners to the Derry and Donegal region.
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He said a ‘joined up Anglo-Irish’ approach would be needed to fund the project as it would be beyond the means of Foyle Port alone.

However, he told the committee that the Irish and British governments, the Stormont Executive and the local authorities would get a considerable ‘bang for their buck’ in such an investment.

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“We had estimated previously that you could probably do this for in the order of between say €30m and €50m which against regional development budgets and budgets in the Shared Island fund is, you know, I suppose, I’d hesitate to say is modest - it’s a huge amount of money - but what it could do in terms of invigorating essentially an underdeveloped asset from both sides could really do something significant in that eastern part of Inishowen and would greatly enhance the products in Derry and products in NI as well.”