Irish Examiner - 12/12/08
Restoration of ferry link ‘has never been closer’
By Sean O’Riordan
THE Port of Cork says the reinstatement of the Swansea-Cork ferry service is just a step away.
A bank has agreed to fund 60% of the start-up costs; a number of other investors are on board; an operator has been found and four ships on the market have been identified as suitable for the service
Port of Cork commercial manager Captain Michael McCarthy said the reinstatement of the ferry link “had never been closer” since it ceased operating in 2006.
Since then it is estimated that tourism revenue of €70 million has been lost to the south-west region.
The ferry link was established in 1987 and was responsible for bringing 2,850,000 passengers and 700,000 cars into Cork.
The cost of re-establishing the route is estimated at €12m and it’s believed more than €10m has already been guaranteed.
Capt McCarthy said the port authorities were doing everything in their power to ensure the service gets up and running.
“Over the last six weeks we have visited seven countries and identified four suitable vessels. We’re satisfied that we have a robust business plan and the operation is commercially viable,” Capt McCarthy said.
He said “the last pieces of the jigsaw were beginning to come together” and a relatively small amount of further investment is needed to get the ferry operational for March 2009.
Recent surveys of British holiday-makers have shown they are reverting more to taking their cars on family holidays, rather than expensive airline travel to sunspots.
That makes traditional style holidays in Cork and Kerry far more attractive.
“The reinstatement of the ferry service would be a significant boost for tourism and freight business,” Capt McCarthy said.
A large number of hauliers have backed the move due to fuel savings and the reduction in the number of hours drivers are at the wheel.
Both the port authorities in Swansea and Cork will offer the incentives to aid start-up operations for the ferry.
The Mayor of County Cork, Cllr Noel Harrington, said he was very hopeful that the remaining investment could be found.
“I am appealing to people living in Cork and Kerry to look at investing in this. I’m fully confident it is a viable proposition and it is essential for the region that it’s reinstated,” Mr Harrington said.
Local authorities in the region have pledged, along with Fáilte Ireland, to put significant money aside to market a new ferry service.
This news is really encouraging - but we still need your support to convince the people that need convincing that this ferry service is essential to tourism and business in West Cork, Kerry and South Wales.
Please add your comments to our e-petition now ..... every ‘signature’ helps!
Thanks ! - Adrian