Secure the Future of Valentia Island Car Ferry
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We the undersigned strongly urge Shane Ross TD, Minister for Tourism and Transport to approve the additional funding needed to acquire a new car ferry, thereby securing the future of the vessel - not only for Valentia Island but for the whole of south west Kerry, Ireland.
The group responsible for the ferry, through self-finance and additional borrowing, has raised €1million of the €2.8million needed for a new boat. The present craft has been deemed, by the Marine Survey Office, as needing to be replaced in 2018.
At this time the ferry owners have been unsuccessful in their bid to secure capital from Fáilte Ireland and have exhausted all other means of self-initiated fund raising.
Although there is a bridge from Portmagee (that links the mainland with the far end of the island) the ferry is irreplaceable in relation to Valentia's economic, social and environmental future. It is defining as a stand alone piece of of infrastructure that has a proven track record and is a success.
With 100,000 cars and an average of a quarter of a million passengers conveyed between Knightstown and Renard in 2016 - in a season running from the end of March through to the start of October - these resounding figures speak for themselves and therefore justify the need for assisted funding.
In 2011 the Swansea Cork car ferry went into liquidation, and at a meeting Noel Murphy, Chairman of the West Cork Tourism Co-Operative, in an address to staff, shareholders and supporters said:
The funds were there, private and public to allow us to continue, but despite the best efforts of all involved, state aid rules and red tape choked off the ferry's chances of sailing again in 2012.
History must not be allowed to repeat itself again and we, the undersigned, call on Shane RossTD, on behalf of the Irish Government, to grant the additional funding to prevent the axing of the Valentia Island ferry and the vital service that it provides.
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