Dáil Éireann - Volume 393 - 21 November, 1989

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Swansea-Cork Ferry.

12. Mr. Moynihan asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if he will outline his position in regard to obtaining Government approval for financial assistance to the Swansea-Cork ferry, in view of the urgency of having the service promoted.

18. Mr. Sheehan asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport when he will approve financial support for the restoration of the Swansea-Cork ferry service; and if his attention has been drawn to the serious threat to the tourism industry in the south-western region of the country by the failure of his Department in not approving of this financial assistance to the ferry company.

21. Mr. Barry asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if he will urgently make available to the Swansea-Cork ferry company a grant to allow that company to provide a ferry service in 1990.

49. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if Government assistance will be available as promised for the Swansea-Cork ferry.

Mr. S. Brennan: I propose to take Questions Nos. 12, 18, 21 and 49 together.

I am pleased to tell the House that the Government have decided, in principle, that financial assistance should be made available to Swansea Cork Ferries Limited for the provision of a Cork-Swansea ferry service in 1990. This decision, however, is subject to a number of stringent conditions.

The principal condition is that the service must be operated on a management contract basis on behalf of Swansea Cork Ferries Limited by an existing experienced [975] ferry operator. The terms of the contract will be subject to my approval. Another condition is that the performance of Swansea Cork Ferries in 1990 must meet very specific agreed financial limits.

Mr. Moynihan: I welcome the commitment from the Minister in relation to the financial contribution to Swansea Cork Ferries Limited and, indeed, all tourist interests in that region do likewise. I would remind the Minister that there are still problems so far as it could well take, by the time all the loose ends are tied up, a further three or four weeks before the sailing rosters and the sailing times are determined and indeed before the brochures go to the tour operators and the travel agencies. It is absolutely futile to put a ferry boat on the Irish Sea. What makes it a success is the marketing and promotion and my worry is that time is running out. I say to the Minister that having made the financial commitment yesterday he should now take the absolute initiative in ensuring that not a day or an hour is lost in completing this work. I further say to the Minister——

An Ceann Comhairle: Sorry, Deputy Moynihan, I am anxious to facilitate the Deputy by way of eliciting information.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: This is very serious.

Mr. Moynihan: ——that the stop-go situation in regard to this boat over the last three years has not enhanced the marketing and promotion of the service. The Minister, being satisfied that this service is absolutely necessary for the tourist potential development of Cork and Kerry should, having completed this agreement, view the possibility of having a three or five year commitment which would enhance the marketing and promotion and thus ensure that this is a continuing rather than a stop-go process?

Mr. S. Brennan: I should like to inform the House that no time will be lost in putting this decision into effect. It will be [976] put into effect immediately. In fact, this very day discussions are taking place to progress it rapidly. Both the Minister of State at my Department, Deputy Lyons, and myself are working very closely on this matter. We have processed it through Government and a decision will be announced as quickly as possible. May I take this opportunity to put something on the record which I regard as important. I undertook an independent consultancy study in this regard which, to say the least, was not optimistic about the commercial viability of the service. In spite of that I have taken the decision to support this ferry because I have accepted the arguments of the people of Cork and Kerry that they can respond to this kind of support in a short time. I am taking that in good faith and I am putting my money on the support of the people of Cork and Kerry. I now say bluntly that it is up to the exporters in that region to avail of the service and to bring in the targets which have been given to me for 1990. I will be as helpful as I possibly can in this regard. It is now over to the people who use the service to show me and the Government that consultancy reports and independent commentators are wrong and that this can be a viable service. That is my attitude to it.

Mr. J. O'Keeffe: You are giving us an absolute guarantee——

Mr. S. Brennan: Yes.