19/12/2007

Rathlin Ferry's Future Fears

Rathlin Island residents are seeking reassurances from the Department of Regional Development (DRD) on the future of its ferry connection with the mainland.

The residents of Ulster's only inhabited island are nervous and fear a vital lifeline is in jeopardy - after the Government failed to find a new ferry operator.

Concerns were raised after the DRD abandoned the tendering process to find a company for Ballycastle to Rathlin route last month.

In a statement from the Department officials they said none of the applications for the five-year contract were "economically advantageous".

Despite receiving "a number" of tenders since competition opened in April the Department abandoned competition on November 29.

Chairman of Moyle District Council Madeline Black said DRD must act immediately to allay people's fears.

She said: "The council is disappointed that the current tendering process has failed to produce a result.

"We would want to be assured by the department that there will be a new contract in place for April 2008."

The contract, which is up for renewal in April 2008, has been held by Rathlin Ferries, a subsidiary of the Scottish Executive-owned David MacBrayne. During 2007-08 Calmac received a DRD subsidy of £450,000.

In a statement the DRD said it was their intention to re-advertise the tender.

It read: "The DRD has decided to abandon the current competition to provide the Rathlin Island to Ballycastle ferry service which closed on October 11, and to re-tender on a revised basis.

"The Department had received a number of bids from interested operators but following tender evaluation, the selection panel advised that none of the bids offered a most economically advantageous solution in terms of affordability and compliance with the service requirement.

"In the light of this, the Department is reconsidering its approach and the tender will be re-advertised in the near future, with a view to an award of contract by April 2008."

(BMcC)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

18 March 2020
Other News In Brief
North West 200 Postponed Organisers of the North West 200 have announced the postponement of this year's race week. The event, scheduled for the week beginning 10 May, has been pushed back amid concerns and restrictions around the current public health situation.
27 February 2020
Strong Gales To Sweep NI
Northern Ireland is bracing itself for another stormy weekend as strong gales are expected to batter the region. The worst of the disruption is expected throughout Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, when a yellow weather warning for wind will be in place.
11 March 2020
New Belfast-Liverpool Ferry Launches
In a week full of bad news for NI-UK connectivity, Stena Line has set out to redefine ferry travel on the Irish Sea with a new state-of-the-art ship. The biggest ferry to ever sail the Belfast to Liverpool route, the Stena Edda embarked on its maiden voyage from Merseyside to Belfast on Monday evening.
22 October 2013
New Ferries For Strangford And Rathlin
Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy has secured £2m in funding to allow a project for two new ferries to operate in Northern Ireland. One will operate on the Ballycastle/Rathlin Island route, and the other will be on the Strangford/Portaferry route.
06 June 2014
Ballymena Road Improvement Scheme Praised
Roads staff and contractors have been praised for the completion of a £10.82m roads scheme in the Ballymena area. The scheme was part of an investment in roads infrastructure in the Ballymena area, which Transport Minister Danny Kennedy described as a "comprehensive range of road schemes and maintenance work.