€500k sought to restart ferry link

Three local authorities in the South-West are to be asked to find approximately €500,000 to help restart the Cork-Swansea ferry link.

Representatives from Fastnet Line Ship Holdings Ltd are expected to attend a special meeting of Cork County Council next Monday at which they will outline a business plan for the company, which is in examinership.

They will also address a scheduled meeting of Cork City Council later the same day and are expected to communicate their request to Kerry County Council shortly.

Earlier this week a High Court judge agreed to extend court protection for the company to the maximum period of 100 days, which will expire next month.

It is expected that the examiner, Michael McAteer, will return the High Court on Feb 8 in the hope that he will be able to convince Mr Justice Peter Kelly that he has the necessary funding to secure the company’s survival.

The company has raised only part of the €1.6m it needs to restart the service and it is hoping that local authorities here and in Wales will bridge the gap.

Fastnet Line Ship Holdings Ltd, which is owned by West Cork Tourism Co-Operative, was granted court protection last November. Since then its ferry, the MV Julia, has remained tied up in Cork.

The examiner is hoping to restart a slimed down service from next April, with 80 fewer sailings per year. Instead of a year-round service it would only operate from April to September.

The Julia carried more than 153,000 passengers since its launch in March 2010 and provides a vital link for visitors from Britain — believed to be worth €40m annually to the tourism industry in Cork and Kerry.

During that period the ferry also carried €65m worth of freight.

The special meeting of Cork County Council was called by the mayor of Co Cork, Cllr Tim Lombard (FG), with the backing of the county manager, Martin Riordan.

“As tourism has been identified as a key national and regional job creation objective, the sustaining of this service is a key priority for the region,” said Mr Riordan.

Cllr Lombard said the service provided a vital link between the two countries.

“It is the only ferry link that we have from Cork to Britain. It has carried over 153,000 passengers to this region since March 2010, which has made a significant contribution to our tourist industry. Our economic recovery depends on key industries like the tourism industry and it is vital that we maintain this important link,” he said.

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