The Foyle Ferry service will sail again this summer, following an agreement between Donegal County Council and Frazer Ferries company.
It was feared the Greencastle to Magilligan Ferry service would not sail again, after Frazer Ferries told both Donegal County Council and Causeway Coast & Glens Council it could not run the service in 2017 on the same terms as 2016, and spoke of losses of up to €100k.
However, Donegal County Council re-advertised a tender for the service with a subsidy in April, and Frazer Ferries were successful in their application.
The Ferry service will start in five weeks time, Saturday, July 1, and run until Sunday, September 17.
It is understood a total of €360,000 in subvention will be provided by the council over the next three years, €120,000 per year.
In 2018, the service will run for 11 days at Easter, five days over the May Bank Holiday weekend and start for the summer months from the June Bank Holiday and run until September 16.
Similar arrangements will be place for 2019, and it is then hoped that further discussions can take place with the ferry operator.
Colr. Martin McDermott welcomed the confirmation that the Foyle Ferry will run from July 1, and said council will provide €120,000 subvention annually for the service.
This means that councillors will have to sacrifice their Development Fund Initiative (DFI) funding for 2017, but Colr. McDermott hopes other funding options may become available.
“We have to take the hit this year, but we will start working on other funding options for years two and three straight away.
“We will take the hit because you can’t not have the ferry service running,” he said.
Paul O’Sullivan, managing director of Frazer Ferries said he was “very optimistic” about the future of the service.
“We believe it can be financially self-sustaining, but it needs to prove its consistency and reliability to the travelling public, and that’s what we are aiming to do. We learned a great deal last year and we received considerable positive feedback, particularly in terms of our pricing and frequency of sailings, and we were encouraged by that.
“We are keen to deliver those services again this year on a consistent basis so that, ultimately, it will lead to the annual delivery of the service in future years to come.”
“We appreciate the cooperation of Donegal County Council and we are keen to provide the service this year again. Ultimately, we believe that it can be a financially self sustaining business,” added Mr. O’Sullivan.
Colr. Martin Farren welcomed the news. “I’d like to thank everyone involved, everyone from the officials to the councillors for their full support. A lot of work was put in during the last few weeks to get this over the line.
“We all know how important it is to have the ferry running for tourism in the entire region.”