Donegal Sinn Féin Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has slammed the Government’s ongoing refusal to fund Donegal’s key tourism ferry services from Rathmullan to Buncrana and from Greencastle to Magilligan.
In response to a parliamentary question submitted by Senator Mac Lochlainn, the Minister for Transport and Tourism, Shane Ross, not only ruled out funding from his Department but also ruled out funding from Fáilte Ireland.
Senator Mac Lochlainn said:
“This is a really disappointing response from Minister Ross. For years now, Donegal County Council have heavily invested in these two ferries as a key contribution to developing the tourism offering in Donegal. The council have had to utilise money that could and should have been allocated to local community groups across the county in order to do this. This is just not sustainable.
“There have been repeated calls from Donegal over the years for Governments to step up to the plate in relation to these ferries. However, after all these years, if anything, the situation is getting worse with even Fáilte Ireland funding now being ruled out.
“For the life of me, I can’t understand this. We have the Wild Atlantic Way that everyone agrees has been a genuine success story and we have the Causeway Coast in the Six Counties that is also going really well. These ferries should be an integral part of that tourism strategy, joining up the dots of both and connecting Donegal to Derry and Antrim.
“But we have hit a wall again. It is not fair for the elected members of Donegal County Council to have to allocate funding that should be for our local community organisations to these ferries every year. Donegal County Council have led the way for too long with no backing from Government.
“I will be calling on Minister Ross to meet with a delegation of elected members from Donegal County Council as soon as possible to examine options including North-South funding for these ferries”.
Minister of State for Sports and Tourism Patrick O’Donovan replied; “My Department has no function in the provision or subsidisation of ferry services for these or any other routes.
“My Department provides capital funding to Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority, who administer and award capital grants to develop a wide range of tourism products, including the Wild Atlantic Way.
“However, the Grants Scheme for Large Tourism Projects administered by Fáilte Ireland does not fund infrastructural projects such as car ferry services, which fall outside the scope of projects eligible for grant aid assistance under the scheme, when such services are not an integral part of a tourism activity, product or attraction.Tags: