Thursday, 16 February 2012
Dáil Éireann Debate
22. Deputy Martin Ferris asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the efforts he made to ensure the future viability of the Cork to Swansea, UK, ferry service; the estimated impact of the loss of that service for the Cork and Kerry tourism industry; and his plans to address this issue. [8604/12]
Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Michael Ring): I am disappointed to learn that the Cork-Swansea Ferry Service, operated by the Fastnet Line, has ceased to operate. I met the West Cork Tourism Co-op on 17 January when they outlined their plans for the future of the service. As a first step, the co-op advised me of the overriding requirement to secure further investment to bring the enterprise out of examinership.
I advised the co-op at the time that the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and the State Agencies under its remit had no function in the subsidisation or provision of ferry services for this or other routes or indeed the finance to do so.
That said and within the strict confines of EU State Aid rules, the State Tourism agencies have been supportive of the ferry service since its inception. In particular, they have provided co-operative marketing support, offered a range of business supports and Fáilte Ireland certified the venture for Business Expansion Scheme funding. I know that in recent months the State tourism agencies had more discussions with the operators and were assisting them in putting together a marketing plan. Further general business supports were also offered to the company which were intended to assist the service in securing sales and improving yields had it been able to exit the examinership process.
Regrettably the company was not able to reach a position where it could have availed of those supports. I accept that the loss of the service is likely to have some impact on tourism in the southern region.
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