State Papers: Concerns Cork-Swansea ferry could ‘threaten’ B&I

Government minutes show approval still given for ‘starting up grant’ of £300,000

Memo said former minister for communications Jim Mitchell would be pleased to see a ferry service to Cork, but was concerned about possible losses. Photograph: Joe St Leger/The Irish Times

Memo said former minister for communications Jim Mitchell would be pleased to see a ferry service to Cork, but was concerned about possible losses. Photograph: Joe St Leger/The Irish Times

 

A memo in the taoiseach’s file, from the Department of Communications, dated September 11th, 1985, said Swansea Cork Car Ferries Ltd proposed to operate four round trips a week between the two ports and was seeking equity from the exchequer.

Its shareholders were Glamorgan County Council, Irish Mainport Holdings and Cork and Kerry county councils.

The memo said the B&I service between Cork and the UK was terminated in 1983. It noted then minister for communications Jim Mitchell would be pleased to see a ferry service to Cork, but was concerned about possible losses. If a once-off grant was to be given it should come from the Department of Industry, the memo said.

But a note dated September 12th from the Department of Industry said the Cork-Swansea service would be likely to “seriously threaten” the profitability of State-owned B&I.

“As existing capacities are adequate it would be most imprudent that the exchequer should subsidise a new carrier whose activities could undermine present operators and perhaps endanger future tourism development,” the note said.

Despite the advice, government minutes show approval was given for a “once-off, starting up grant” of £300,000 (€380,921). The source of the funds was to be either the Department of Industry or the Department of Communications, to be decided at a later date.

Following continuing financial difficulties, B&I Ferries was sold in 1992 to Irish Continental Line, now Irish Ferries.

Swansea Cork Car Ferries Ltd made its first crossing in 1987. It ceased operations in 2006.