A CO-OP of “ordinary people” who purchased a €7.8 million passenger ferry that will travel between Cork and Swansea has dubbed it the “People’s Ship” and predicted it will support 1,000 new jobs.
The 154-metre 1,800 passenger ferry the MV Julia, which arrived in Cork yesterday for a final fit-out before starting service next March, is expected to inject up to €50m annually into the local economy.
Her arrival is the culmination of an almost year-long campaign by the West Cork Tourism Co-Op (WCTC) to restore the ferry link. Swansea-Cork Ferries ceased operations in 2006 and despite carrying 3.5 million passengers since it began in 1987, the company couldn’t find a replacement for its MV Superferry.
The loss of the service is estimated to have cost the south west region about €150m in lost revenue.
Frustrated by a lack of state support, a group of business and tourist interests across Cork and Kerry formed a co-op, raised finance through a shares issue and following drawn-out negotiations with a Finnish bank, purchased the vessel in Finland last September.
They will re-launch the Cork to Swansea route next March as Fastnet line Ltd.
WCTC chairman Conor Buckley described the MV Julia as the “people’s ship”.
WCTC vice-chairman Stephen O’Keeffe described the Julia’s arrival as “a dream come true”.
“This is the answer to a lot of our economic woes. We are doing something – all of the people of Cork, west Cork and Kerry – we have done this,” he said.
Cork Chamber chief executive Conor Healy praised the co-op for its initiative. “This ferry service is critical to the south-west,” he said.
“Its reintroduction will provide a much-needed boost to the economy with the potential to generate significant benefits for all sectors. Tourists and exporters will now again have a direct link to and from the UK.”
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