An Oireachtas committee in Dublin has intervened in the Lough Foyle ferry funding saga by agreeing to write to the transport authorities, North and South, in order to urge them to assist Donegal County Council in supporting the service.
The intervention follows a petition from a Mr. Johnny Anderson, who is demanding that the British and Irish governments keep the ferry service afloat. His petition has now been considered by the Dáil and Seanad Joint Committee on Public Petitions.
Dublin Sinn Féin, TD, Denise Mitchell, acknowledged that the service was a vital cog in the North Western tourist infrastructure and lamented Donegal County Council’s sister council across the lough wasn’t doing more to help. “We all know the importance of keeping this service open. I acknowledge that Donegal County Council is anxious this service is sustained and it is providing a substantial subvention towards it,” she said.
“Unfortunately, the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council has little or no interest in funding this, bar allowing the use of the slip and the facilities. It is unfair this service is caught in a catch-22.
“It is not eligible for funding from Fáilte Ireland and is not considered for infrastructure funding from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. We need to find out which department should be responsible,” she added.
The committee agreed to write to the southern Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, to recommend that, particularly due to the “uncertainty of the effects of Brexit”, that his department assists “Donegal County Council in seeking funding for ferry services which have the potential to increase tourism.”
The committee has also agreed to correspond with the Northern Ireland Assembly.