Launch of Cork ferry to Swansea delayed

Thu, May 7, 2009, 01:00

PLANS BY a local co-op group to re-establish a car ferry link between Cork and Swansea have been shelved until next spring.

Delays in taking ownership of a vessel purchased for the route have jeopardised plans to relaunch the ferry next month in time for this year’s tourist season.

Conor Buckley, chairman of West Cork Tourism, who spearheaded the campaign to relaunch the ferry service, said the co-operative had hoped to take title of a new vessel, the MS Julia, in March, but delays have pushed that date back until next month.

“Because we are buying out of liquidation it has taken much longer than we had originally expected to take title of the ship.

“From a tourist perspective it would be a foolish move to launch the ferry in August or September, midway through the tourist season, without having everything in place. It just wasn’t a viable project for 2009,” Mr Buckley said.

The co-operative, which will oversee the running of the ferry under the new company title Fastnet Line, plans to put measures in place before the new launch date next March. A website is to be developed that will accept bookings for next year and the details of a marketing campaign are to be finalised. Recruitment of up to 100 crew members will get under way this year.

The MS Julia, a 28-year-old Finnish vessel which was recently refitted, needs to undergo minor alterations to comply with Irish maritime law.

The co-operative collected €3 million from shareholders and obtained a loan from a Finnish bank to purchase the ferry, which is capable of carrying 400 cars.