Concerns have been raised regarding the future of a ferry service linking Donegal and Derry.
The Greencastle to Magilligan ferry service, which has been in operation since 2002 faces danger of closure as a result of the failure to secure an operator for 2017.
The service was operated by Frazer Ferries in 2016 but will not be available to run the service this year as a result of severe losses suffered.
Causeway Coast and Glens Council then advertised for tender applications to secure the ferry service. No applications were received before the deadline on the 25th of January.
Labour Councillor Martin Farren has stressed the importance of the ferry to the area. “The ferry is of utmost importance to the area and is a major part of the transport infrastructure.” He also highlighted the impressive figures from 2016 with 71,417 people and 21,346 vehicles using the service in July alone, while the ferry had an average of 860 passengers per day last year.
However, the ferry’s service was late in getting started this year with the boat only operating for 83 days. Councillor Farren expressed his wish to improve on that this year if possible, saying “We must try to ensure it’s up and running earlier this year.”
Councillor Farren hopes that the County Council can work closely with the Causeway Council to secure funds for the service in 2017. “In fairness the county council realise the importance of this service and are looking for a meeting with the Causeway Council to resolve the issue and we hope to have the issue resolved in the very near future.”
Meanwhile, the Lough Swilly ferry service, connecting Buncrana and Rathmullan continues to prosper. Following a bumper 2016 they have purchased a new ferry which they hope will accommodate more passengers in 2017.
The new ferry will be capable of carrying 18 cars.