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06/02/2009

Foyle Ferry Finance Bid Fails

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News that the Irish government has firmly ruled out providing any money towards ensuring the Lough Foyle cross-border ferry service will operate this coming season has proved a further setback for the service's supporters.

The car ferry, which plies between Greencastle in Co Donegal and the Northern Ireland side of the Foyle, at Magilligan in Co Londonderry, looks to be facing closure this summer if €300,000 isn't found.

In the Dáil this week, Donegal TD Joe McHugh called unsuccessfully for the government to provide the money.

Dail Deputy Ahern made it clear that no government department has responsibility for funding in this area.

A subsidy had been provided by Donegal County Council and now the only hope seems to be for Fine Gael MEP Jim Higgins' bid to source the money from Europe.

This may be a last gasp attempt at survival when the current contract expires.

The service is used by both commuters and tourists and takes 15 minutes to cross the one-mile stretch of water.

However, it lost €56,000 last year and could be facing losses of more than €200,000 this year.

The SDLP has previously called on the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish government to step in and rescue the service from collapse.

The £3.6 million ferry service was originally launched in the North West to carry passengers and vehicles between Counties Londonderry and Donegal.

It began carrying car and foot passengers between Magilligan and Greencastle at the mouth of Lough Foyle in 2002.

See: Passenger and car ferry service for Foyle Lough

(BMcC)

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