NEWS

Report on Tory ferry dispute recommends two services

Proposals to resolve the dispute are to be voted on by islanders today

Declan Magee

Reporter:

Declan Magee

Email:

declan.magee@donegaldemocrat.com

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A report into the Tory ferry service dispute written by a government-appointed intermediary has called for two department-funded ferry services for the island.

The report has made a number of proposals to resolve the dispute which are to be voted on by islanders today.

The dispute has developed over a new ferry which is due to come into service on April 1st.

Islanders have said the new ferry is not suitable for the crossing from Machaire Rabhartaigh to Tory.

The vessel, the Queen of Aran, was built in 1976 and has been refitted for the five-year contract.

Families have threatened to leave the island over the issue and islanders have also said they will not allow the ferry dock at the pier.

Pól Ó Gallchóir, the former CEO of TG4, was appointed to act as an intermediary by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and has visited the island in the last week in an attempt to find a resolution.

Mr Ó Gallchóir presented his report yesterday and the island’s Comharchumann met to discuss the proposals last night.

Under the proposals, the department will fund two ferry services from April 1st - the passenger and light cargo ferry service provided by the Queen of Aran, and a fast ferry service.

Mr Ó Gallchóir has also proposed to chair a committee to oversee the two ferry services. The department and the comharchumann would be represented on the committee.

The department will commission a feasibility study on a new ferry service for the island which was committed to in the government’s Project Ireland 2040.

Mr Ó Gallchóir has also proposed an increase in the weekly helicopter service to 28 weeks a year and an increase in the cargo service to 40 weeks.

Government chief whip and Minister of State for Irish, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, Deputy Joe McHugh, welcomed the report.

“I am grateful for the time and dedication Mr Ó Gallchóir has given to his role in the past week,” he said.

“ I would also wish to thank the Islanders and  Comharchumann Thoraí for their engagement in the process. I hope that the last week has provided the necessary groundwork for a resolution to the issues raised by the Islanders and that we can move forward in the best interests of everyone involved. I intend to study Mr Ó Gallchóir’s report in detail before making any further comment on the matter.”