Magilligan harbour is being considered as part of a major plan to bring more cruise ships to the North West.
It’s understood that Derry’s Port and Harbour Commissioners have made approaches to the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council regarding plans for a cruise ship terminal in Lough Foyle and the transfer of the Magilligan slip way from council to the Port and Harbour Commissioners.
Council members approved opening discussions on the handover of the harbour last month, in a move which could see major gains for tourism in the area.
The council is currently facing significant bills for repairs which need to be carried out at the slipway, as well as investment to secure the future of the facility.
A spokesperson for Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council said: “Council has been approached by Londonderry Port and Harbour Commissioners (LPHC) to consider the possibility of asset transfer of the Magilligan slip way.
“Members have approved the investigation of this possibility, allowing due diligence to be carried out by the LPHC. Officers will evaluate council’s perspective (in conjunction with the LPHC position), in order that a comprehensive report (inclusive of implications) can be brought for Member consideration at a later date.”
A spokesperson for the Port and Harbour Commisioners said: “We are at the early stages of discussion with a number of councils as part of the overall plans for a cruise ship terminal in Donegal and associated infrastructure in the north west region. The proposal, still at a formative stage, continues to gain strong support from those who recognise the tourism potential of this part of the island of Ireland.”
SDLP Councillor for the area, John Deighan, has welcomed the news, however, he emphasised the importance of maintaining the current Magilligan to Greencastle Ferry service, which has experienced significant delays and disruption over recent years.
“Of course the use of the harbour is to be welcomed in terms of the economy and tourism and it would be a fantastic opportunity for the entire area, but I think it’s vital that we safeguard the original Greencastle to ferry service. It was disappointing that the service couldn’t start at Easter and I think we have to remember that it brings a lot to the area here and is a gateway to the North West.
“Anything that boosts tourism in these areas must be welcomed, and the arrival of cruise ships certainly would, but I would caviate that with the fact that the current service needs to be maintained and supported.”