The recently deactivated ferry service across Lough Foyle between Greencastle and Magilligan in County Derry may have been given a possible lifeline.
Officials representing Donegal County Council and the Causeway Coast and Glens Council on the northern side of the border are due to meet today in order to discuss the potential return of the service in 2016.
The former service operators announced recently that they would be ending the service and had sold the ferry vessel to Frazer Ferries of Carlingford and would not be seeking to extend their contract beyond March 31, next year and had informed both local authorities of their intentions. As the service ceased for the winter on October 4 this year it will not resume again beyond the ceasing of the current contract.
The Lough Foyle Ferry Company employed ten full-time workers, four part-time staff and a number of seasonal staff who have lost their jobs.
Since its inception in 2002, the ferry carried two and half million passengers between the Inishowen pennisula and the County Derry coastline.
Operator of the service Jim McClenaghan said his compnay had no option but to cease the service and sell the vessel as it had been “running on a shoestring” for many years and that consistent pleas for funding had “fallen on deaf ears.”
However, at a meeting of Causeway Coast and Glens Council on Tuesday night Councillors stated that they were determined to see the service operate again. SDLP Colr Gerry Mullan said: “We are where we are, and I do think we should make the best efforts to make sure the service is re-established to take advantage of tourism opportunities. And, Sinn Fein Colr Brenda Chivers said that the former Limavady Borough Council had “invested a lot of time and money into the ferry, so we need to do all we can to get it back up and running again.”
Previously, Donegal County Councillor Martin Farren had stated: “We certainly don’t want to lose it and need to do everything we can to ensure it doesn’t happen.”
Whilst Councillor Bernard McGuinness said it would be an “absolute scandal” if the service was lost to the area.
Confirming that a meeting involving representatives of both Council’s would take place today, a spokesperson for Donegal County Council told the ‘Journal’: “We can confirm that the Council executive will meet with executives from the Causeway Coast and Glens Council tomorrow and that this meeting will be of a preliminary nature.”
When the Lough Foyle Ferry Company announced its intention to stop operating the service, company director Jack McInerney paid tribute to customers sating that the “biggest regret” was that they had disappointed those who were “most faithful” to them.