Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport
Question 739: To ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport the position regarding the Cork to Swansea ferry service; the dealings he has had with the company operating this route; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7552/12]
I am disappointed to learn that the Cork-Swansea Ferry Service, operated by the Fastnet Line, has ceased to operate. I met with the West Cork Tourism Co-op on 17 January last when they outlined their plans for the future of the service. As a first step, however, 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.