Three years since € 4 million was promised for a new ferry to serve the island of Tory, the appointment of consultants to make recommendations on the design of the boat has not even been approved
Nearly three years after former Gaeltacht minister Joe McHugh pledged € 4 million to build a new ferry to serve the island of Tory, the first phase of the plan has yet to be approved.
There is great doubt now as to the future of the project which has not yet started and has not been funded by the Government.
In responding to a Dáil question from TD Thomas Pringle, the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht, Catherine Martin, pointed out that the project had not only begun but that approval had not been given to appoint consultants to lay out the design of the new boat.
It’s been almost three years since former minister of the Gaeltacht state Joe McHugh announced the start of a plan to build a specially designed ferry for Tory Island.
As part of the same plan, it was proposed to extend Magheraroarty Quay to adapt it to the new vessel, a project which has only just begun.
Minister Martin said that the proposals to be developed as part of the Ireland 2040 Project included the development of Magheraroarty Quay and a new Tory boat and that a standing committee – the Tory Island Joint Access Committee – had been set up to progress the proposals.
However, she indicated that permission had not yet been sought for advice on the construction of the boat.
“With regard to the new vessel, with the appropriate approval, a tender process to engage consultants with expertise in the maritime sector is to be undertaken to prepare proposals for the possibilities of building a new vessel,” said the Minister Martin, who has now taken over the care of the islands from his department to the Department of Social Protection.
“In preparing these proposals, account will be taken of the island that the new boat will serve and the challenges of weather, shelter, speed etc,” said Catherine Martin.
In relation to the development of Magheraroarty Quay, it was stated that Donegal County Council had undertaken a tender process to carry out a bathymetric and geophysical survey.
“The survey will provide the County Council with an insight into the depth of the sea and the nature of the seabed content near the pier,” said the Minister.
“The County Council will be able to assess the potential impact of the various development options when they have this information. The development of this pier will, of course, have implications for the design of any boats to be built to serve Tory Island. ”
When the new project was promised, it was estimated that the boat needed € 4 million to be built and a further € 2.5 million needed for the pier development.
However, Minister Martin made no commitment to fund both proposals and said that they were “due to be considered at the appropriate time under the terms of the Public Spending Code, taking into account the funding available to spend on-island projects. and the various demands for that supply ”.
The new boat was promised due to intense controversy over the Tory ferry service in 2017.
The Tory community expressed dissatisfaction at the decision of Roinn na Gaeltachta to award the five-year contract for the island ferry service to the Star of the Morning company with concerns about the quality of the boat, the Queen of Aran, who would be operating the service.
The islanders launched a campaign calling for the abolition of the contract but, with the appointment of a mediator between the Department and the Tory Co-operative, the islanders voted to accept the Queen of Aran as a ferry, subject to various conditions. and various other services provided until the new boat was built.
Joe McHugh announced in September 2017 that it was providing € 4 million in funding for the construction of the new ferry and that it was providing € 2.5 million for the development of Magheraroarty pier.
At the end of that year Sinn Féin TD TD Pearse Doherty claimed that there was no funding for the new vessel.
Joe McHugh denied this and said that the Department of the Gaeltacht had set aside money to plan the project in 2018. Consultants would first have to be hired to outline the design of the new boat and to steer the tender process for building the boat, said McHugh.
He then indicated that the development of Magheraroarty pier, which would be required for the new boat, was unlikely to be completed until mid-2020 at the earliest.
The Fine Gael TD said at the end of 2017 that the two proposals – the construction of the new boat and the development of the pier – were expected to be completed at the same time, mid this year.
According to a report published on this site in 2018, the commitment to build a new ferry for Tory Island was incorporated into the National Development Plan at the last minute on the understanding that there would be no additional funds available.