The Lough Foyle Ferry Company has confirmed they have sold their vessel and ceased operation of the Greencastle to Magilligan service.
The directors of the company confirmed to the ‘Journal’ the vessel has been sold to Frazer Ferries in Carlingford and they will not be running the service in the future.
The news is a blow to the future of the service and there have now been calls for a new operator to be put in place as soon as possible, with one councillor stating it would be an “absolute scandal” if it was lost to the area.
Donegal County Council and Causeway Coast and Glen Council have been informed the company will not be seeking to extend their contract after March 31st, 2016. As the company ended their service for the winter season on October 4th, it will not be re-instated before then.
The move has led to fears for the future of the service and calls for the two Councils to enter talks immediately to ensure it is not lost.
Donegal County Council told the ‘Journal’ they are aware of the matter and “will be considering options available to us in due course.”
The Foyle Ferry has carried two and a half million passengers since it began in 2002.
Operator Jim McClenaghan said they had no option but to cease service and sell the ferry as it has been “running on a shoestring” for a number of years and their “pleas for funding fell on deaf ears.”
Mr McClenaghan said he will now retire. The company’s ten full-time and four part-time staff, as well as the seasonal staff they employed, will lose their jobs.
Company director Jack McInerney paid tribute to their customers, stating their “biggest regret” is that they have disappointed those who were “most faithful” to them.
He added the decision to cease trading was an “unpleasant, uncomfortable, one” but had to be made as funding was not forthcoming.
Donegal County Councillor Bernard McGuinness told the ‘Journal’ he has spoken to the Donegal County Manager in relation to the issue and hopes to have a meeting to discuss the service’s future when the county estimate is completed.
He added it would be an “absolute scandal” if the service was lost to the area.
Donegal County Councillor Martin Farren agreed, stating: “We certainly don’t want to lose it and need to do everything we can to ensure it doesn’t happen,” he said.