Sinn Féin secure £100,000 fund to save Magilligan ferry
Sinn Féin’s representative for the Magilligan area Cllr Paddy Butcher has secured support from Limavady Borough to earmark £100,000 to subsidise the Magilligan to Greencastle ferry. Cllr Butcher’s proposal was adopted at last nights meeting of the Development Services meeting.
Cllr Butcher said.
“The meeting was held in committee so I cannot comment on the details discussed about the contractual negotiations but the outcome is a matter of public interest. It will be no surprise for the people of the borough to learn which parties support the ferry and which have opposed it since day one when this is eventually exposed by the media. Sinn Féin has continually campaigned to safeguard the future of the ferry.
Bairbre de Brún MEP has been extremely supportive to us locally and continues to brief me on a regular basis. This issue has been on her agenda since she visited Limavady last March. Connor Murphy MP MLA successfully renegotiated the international port of entry status of the project with the Dublin and London government. This removed £130,000 cost of security from the overhead of the company which the ratepayers of Limavady have been paying for the last five years. This cost reduction plus the £100,000 fund agreed last night should make the ferry commercially viable. We hope the operator can now extend the interim arrangement which ends on 1st October until the mandatory tendering process is complete.”
“I was personally criticised during the debate by one unionist councillor for wasting public money on the ferry. I will defend Sinn Féin’s position on any public platform at any time with anyone. Our argument is that this council has been able to subsidise the ferry by up to £130,000 p.a. for the last five years without bankrupting the borough. Now that it is clear neither London, Dublin nor Finance Minister Sammy Wilson are prepared to support the ferry we will carry on as previous. “Ourselves alone” as one of our opponents put it to me last night
We will invite Donegal County Council to match fund us until we receive a decision on a grant application jointly submitted under the Rural Development Measure of the Interreg IVA programme. This is the last year we will ever set a rate in Limavady and we have a duty to secure this facility because once infrastructure is destroyed it is almost impossible to restore it. After next year the new Causeway Coast “Super Council” will set the local rate with much deeper pockets than we have in Limavady.”
Cllr Butcher concluded
“It is also important that we put the record straight in regard to the inaccurate statements which have been issued by John Dallat MLA in recent weeks. His personal attacks on Conor Murphy Minister for Regional Development whose department has no authority whatsoever to make funds available for the Foyle Ferry and red herring stories about comparisons to the Strangford and Rathlin ferry services are unhelpful. We have no intention of reacting to these personal attacks or playing party politics with such an important matter and the public respect that. Sinn Féin will get on with the job we were elected to do at European, regional and local level.
I live in and am honoured to represent the Magilligan area and I could not face my friends and neighbours if I was not seen to be doing everything possible to promote their interests with the support of my party at every level.”