www.bringbacktheswanseacorkferry.com – Newsletter – 7th October 2008
Firstly – apologies for not producing a September Newsletter – it wasn't because there was nothing going on with the Campaign – quite the opposite, in fact as you'll see from the following.....
Anyway – here's an update on events since the last Newsletter.
Happy Birthday to ya!
They say that, as you get older, celebrating birthdays becomes less fun.
We certainly didn't want to celebrate the 7th October 2008 – as this marks exactly two years since the Swansea-Cork Ferry last docked in Ringaskiddy. As well as causing personal hassle and inconvenience for many of you, it's also had a devastating effect on tourism and industry in Cork and Kerry. Hardly surprising, when you consider that, every day the ship docked at Cork it unloaded one hundred thousand euro worth of tourist revenue.
But it's not all bad news – there is reason to be cautiously optimistic... read on for details!
Public Meetings – and the Cork / Kerry initiative
A number of people have suggested that we should take the Campaign 'out on the road' – with a series of Public Meetings. We'd discussed this – but always fought shy of it – partly because of the logistical problems of running a 'roadshow' – but mostly because we weren't convinced there would be much point in doing this.
Back in late September, a Kerry businessman, Danny McCarthy called a public meeting in Casey's Hotel at Glengarriff. The meeting was an impressive show of cross-party / cross-county solidarity, with politicians from all levels and persuasions attending – all the way from Senators to Local Councillors (and Adrian and Chris Taylor from the Campaign). A number of actions were agreed, and a follow-up meeting was called for Monday 29th September (see the minutes of both meetings on the News pages of our website).
We were delighted to welcome Captain Michael McCarthy (Commercial Manager, Port of Cork) and Colm Burke (MEP – see 'EU Funding' below) who both gave encouraging presentations.
Michael was able to give us all an insight into the complexities of locating a suitable ship, and preparing a convincing business plan – but he did state that the Port of Cork is full committed to restoring the Swansea-Cork ferry service for freight and passengers as soon as humanly possible.
Following lobbying by the Healy-Rae brothers, a deputation from Cork and Kerry will meet with Transport Minister Dempsey to present the case for the restoration of the ferry and ask the Government for assistance
Colm Burke has been asking questions in the European Parliament – and it now appears that the EU is happy for the Irish Government to provide up to 30% of the funding for the new service.
Whether the Irish Government is happy to do this remains to be seen – but the official position was always that they were unable to do this under EU legislation. If they don't assist now, it will be because they choose not to – rather than being prevented from doing so.
It might be a good time to email your friendly local TD / Minister etc. Watch this space!
More EU news
Kathy Sinnott (MEP) was unable to attend the Glengarrif meeting – but she sent us this statement :- ”I am supporting your efforts to reinstate the Cork Swansea ferry link. This campaign comes at a good time. The EU have been working on a revised strategy for transport which includes maritime transport. The two priorities in the strategy are mobility and sustainability.
With this in mind, in supporting the Cork Swansea ferry I make the following points.
A basic tenant of the European Community is mobility. As an island nation that mobility relies on crossing water either by air or by sea. Because of concern for climate and fossil fuels, it is increasingly necessary that our mobility is carried out in a sustainable way. For this reason, it is important that that we are not overly reliant on air transport. A ferry is a good way to minimise the environmental impact of our mobility.
In addition, the EU guarantee of mobility is for all. However if everyone is to have the option of mobility then there must be a range of methods of travel. Not every method of travel suits every person or every circumstance of travel.
We can also argue for the Cork Swansea Ferry from the standpoint of balanced regional development. Already in Ireland, the vast majority of our contact with the rest of the world is funnelled through Dublin. This is certainly not balanced.
I will be using these and other arguments to support your efforts in reinstating this important link.”
It's good to know that our message is being taken to the people in high places by people like Kathy.
We have some Frequently Asked Questions on our website – but from time to time new questions arise – so here's an attempt to address some of these.
> Q - Why doesn't one of the other Irish Sea operators run the Swansea Cork ferry ?
> A – It seems that they don't want to. The current operators are benefiting from some of the traffic that used to travel Swansea-Cork, and so they would be 'bidding against themselves' if they were to get involved in Swansea-Cork..
> Q – How difficult can it be to just get a ship and re-start the service ?
> A – It's not as simple as it might appear. Not only is there a world shortage of ferry ships in general, but the sometimes-rough Irish Sea crossing requires that a suitable ship must carry specific certification, and the shallow entrance to Swansea Harbour further narrows the choice. The good news is that some potentially suitable ships have been identified – and are being checked out.
> Q - Will the new service be run by Swansea-Cork Ferries Ltd, the Government, Stelios, Richard Branson, or Podge and Rodge ?
> A – Not as far as we know. It seems most likely that the service will be run by private enterprise – although a significant financial commitment has been given by Failte Ireland and the two County Councils towards the marketing of the new service.
The Current Situation
- There are currently two organisations who are interested in running the new service.
- They are in discussions with the Port of Cork, and are seeking private investment (see below).
- A cross-party / two-county team is working towards re-establishing the ferry service – coordinated by Noel Harrington (Cork County Mayor) and Tom Fleming (Kerry Mayor).
- We are not yet there – and still need your support in all the usual ways - via our e-petition and the User Survey, car stickers, badges, lobbying etc – now is the time to keep the pressure ON!
Investment (or 'yes – we know there's a recession on!)
So – just when we start to make progress with the Campaign, the World suddenly decides that it's time for a new recession! Here at the Campaign – we believe that the only way from here is 'up' – and, rather than sitting around moaning about how tough life is we'd rather work our way up out of this (possibly self-inflicted) depression.
Captain McCarthy revealed some interesting facts about the financial case for the Ferry. It appears that (despite whatever you might hear to the contrary) the ferry was consistently profitable – and the restored service is predicted to be even more profitable – even in the current economic climate. In fact, the projections for the service show it breaking even by the end of Year1, and returning a 5% profit by Year3. So – if you know anybody who might be interested in an attractive investment – please contact us here at the Campaign and we'll put them in touch with the right people.
And finally .......Ryanair - “Bullocks!”
A recent press release
(http://www.ryanair.com/site/EN/news.php?yr=08&month=sep&story=gen-en-260908) from Ryanair's Stephen McNamara states
“Failte Ireland’s August figures confirm what has been evident in the marketplace for many years now. Only bullocks go by boat. These “slow boats” can’t compete with Ryanair’s prices, our punctuality or our completions record, which is why Ryanair continues to grow carrying more and more passengers, while the boat traffic continues to collapse carrying more and more “bullocks”.
The statistics on which they base this somewhat insulting statement show a drop in ferry traffic to Ireland, and a corresponding rise in airline traffic – which is hardly surprising given that the Swansea Cork Ferry hasn't run for two years.
Far be it from us to be controversial – but if you want to tell Steven that he's talking bullocks – then you can contact him on +353 1 812 1212 WWW: http://www.ryanair.com or email his PR consultants firstname.lastname@example.org
And now it's your turn...
..to help the campaign.
Even though it looks quite promising for the return of the ferry – we can't become complacent.
Please drop a quick email to your friends, colleagues and customers – and ask them to visit the website at www.bringbacktheswanseacorkferry.com and fill in the e-petition.
The User Survey is still running (links from the website) and it's producing some useful information – if you haven't already done so – please visit the Survey and make your needs known.
Download the car/window/whatever sticker, buy a button badge and wear them both with pride!
Keep up the pressure on your elected representatives – lobby them – contact addresses on the website.
Our sincere thanks to you all for everything that we've achieved so far – let's keep it up – and make sure that the Swansea Cork Ferry is back in operation for 2009.
Keep it up!
Adrian Brentnall – www.bringbacktheswanseacorkferry.com
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