examiner200210
[examiner200210]

Speculation on €3m ferry boost mounts
Saturday, February 20, 2010
By Sean O’Riordan - Irish Examiner

SPECULATION is mounting that government agencies in Ireland and Wales will shortly make a €3 million investment in the Fastnet Line.

The new car and passenger ferry service intends to relaunch the Cork-Swansea route on March 1 after purchasing the German-built MV Julia from a Finnish bank.

It is believed Finance Wales, a subsidiary of the Welsh Assembly, along with an arm of Ireland’s National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) will formally announce funding within the next few days.

The importance of restarting the route is well known by both governments, which have been lobbied intensively by tourism groups.

It is estimated the south-west of Ireland alone lost around €150m in tourism revenue since the former route operator, Swansea-Cork Ferries, closed down its service in 2006.

Cork City Council and Cork County Council have each invested €200,000 in the company.

The money will be repayable after four years and will gain 10% interest.

In April 2008, a campaign was launched by West Cork Tourism to relaunch the service.

The group, chaired by Conor Buckley, formed a co-operative which purchased the MV Julia.

Mr Buckley, who was recently named Cork Person of the Year, said he was very hopeful of additional investment, which could be by way of a loan, coming from the two government agencies.

"Nothing has been finalised yet, but hopefully we will have all our funding requirements in place within the next 72 hours, which will secure the ferry for future generations to come," Mr Buckley said.

Speaking in the Dáil last Wednesday, Kerry-based Deputy John O’Donoghue urged the Government to invest in the Fastnet Line.

He said the company was expecting up to 30,000 cars and 80,000 passengers to use the service in 2010.

"These are people who, because of the nature of their visit, tend to stay longer and spend more than air travellers. They will be welcomed again with the return of the ferry service," Mr O’Donoghue said.