Rathlin Ferry 2

A quick update to the Rathlin ferry blog although to be honest Nevin’s blog is much the best place to go for all of these things. One of the vessels (the MV True Light) which Mr. O’Driscoll was due to use has failed a safety test whilst it is still not clear whether or not Mr. O’Driscoll will be able to use the current boat the MV Canna; his company is due to start the service on 1st July.

Jim Allister has called for the handover to be delayed and as I noted yesterday John Dallat raised a number of questions in Stormont. It seems difficult to believe that there could be no ferry service on Tuesday but the current events must hardly be inspiring confidence in the Rathlin population even leaving aside the possibility of an increase in fares.

  • Peat Blog

    Was on Rathlin last week and David Ford of Alliance just happened to be on the same boat (there and back). Spot of bird watching or detective work?

  • Oh dear, doesn’t look good. I hope the contract doesn’t involve the organisation of drinks parties in brewing establishments. Would like to see what the response is from the new operator.

  • Turgon, apologies for not getting on here sooner but it’s very difficult keeping pace with the shambles currently transfixing the concerned residents of the Kingdom of Moyle.

  • UMIF, Murphy’s answers don’t inspire confidence. I’ll post more of them on the NALIL blog tomorrow.

  • Peter Robinson, the then Minister with responsibility for procurement and tendering, has largely escaped the inquisitorial eye of the media – so far.

    The NIAO will want to know if O’Driscolls tenders, both first and second time around, should have made it as far as the scoring process. Were any boxes ticked that, er, should not have been ticked? If there were, then some public servants as well as MLAs on the appropriate committee will have serious questions to answer.

    I understand that FOI requests have highlighted discrepancies in the scoring for the re-run tender. The MV Canna was the main vessel for both the CalMac and the O’Driscoll tenders. This would mean that the same figures should appear in the same boxes. I’m told that some figures are very different – even up to a magnitude of 4:1. If this should be found to be true then it could have altered the final total scores dramatically!!

    It’s not a bad day up in the Kingdom of Moyle but only those who know the tides can explain whether or not Conor Murphy will experience the thrill of the Rathlin rip in the vicinity of Slogh-na-more, going or coming in the sometimes exceedingly choppy waters of Rathlin Sound.

  • Mannanan

    Slogh na More should be quite an impressive sight after about 5.30 this evening, an ebb tide starting to drain out of the North Channel meeting a westerly wind just off the Rue Point. Glad there’s no cats about!

  • Mannanan, I understand the Minister will be returning to Ballycastle some time later this afternoon. He’ll be catching the 3:30 or the 5:30 from Rathlin.

  • David Ford

    Peat Blog

    Sorry to spoil a good conspiracy theory, but it was our wedding anniversary and we took the opportunity to have a day off visiting the RSPB viewpoint.

    I did have conversations with a number of Rathlin friends, but I was strictly off duty. I also spoke to a former SF worker too, but I don’t think he was scouting for Conor Murphy.

  • David, you might like to take a look at the NALIL blog, especially the link to the Rathlin Rip Flickr photos. It seems that you MLAs have some digging to do. That’s what we pay you for 🙂

  • Peat Blog


    No conspiracy suspected. Happy anniversairy.

    Should have had a wee word with you about some of your Env. Comm. colleagues. We’ll have to keep a close eye on them now Sambo has his fingers on the trigger.

  • David Ford

    Nevin and PB

    You both know where I am ….

  • “You both know where I am ….”

    Yes. And I left a message. Have you taken your coat off to do a bit of digging, David? I thought MLAs and Committees would hold Ministers to account, especially so soon after the Causeway Visitor Centre fiasco.

    Your party colleague, Stephen, sits on the DFP committee. Has he been through the tender documents with a fine tooth comb? That has been the advice coming through from West Cork.

  • David, according to the Grapevine DCAL reps were with CO’D in West Cork yesterday and CM in Rathlin today? I find it difficult to believe that DCAL would act against CalMac, its sister company, unless it was cajoled to do so by its bosses in the Scottish government. Have you got any influence in the latter?

  • Perhaps I should have added that a relevant Scottish government department, CMAL and CalMac are familiar with the Rathlin stories that have been appearing on Slugger and NALIL. They will therefore also have seen some of the stories that are in the News Letter and may have wondered why other parts of the media haven’t follow suit.

  • the wicker man

    Why are you getting so worked up about this, Nevin?

    Are you trying to take the personal glory for your tedious ‘scoop’?

    Most people don’t give a shit if there’s a ferry to Rathlin or not-including the inhabitants of that soulless crag.

  • “that soulless crag”

    Oh dear. Was the happy hour abandoned?

  • Safety Management Plan (jpg) has not been approved. Who’s responsibility was that? Robinson? Murphy? Both?

  • the wicker man

    Get a life, Nevin. Nobody aparts from you, gives a flying f*ck,

    Night, night,Sailor.

  • “Get a life, Nevin. Nobody aparts from you, gives a flying f*ck”

    It’s been a fascinating life, Wicker, especially this past year and this past month has been a roller-coaster ride. What greater glory do you need? I’ve put in a bit of extra effort after a late start but when you’re fed a story you can hardly claim it as a scoop.

    Google and Flickr statistics and that little counter at the bottom of the NALIL blog demonstrate that quite a few people from across these two islands and further afield do give a flying f*ck.

    One MLA has already exclaimed ‘Jesus’ when I led him through the blog and some of the links. I’m hearing that MLAs from one party nearly had a ‘brawl in the hall’.

    The dark underbelly of this bizarre story was flagged up to me by a friend who had been aware of other examples of governance sleaze. Others were given this story on a plate and either chose to ignore it, attempted to bury it or couldn’t find the evidence to make it credible.

    Jim Allister called for a halt to the process yet Conor Murphy, Peter Robinson, Nigel Dodds and others just kept rolling on. Why?

    This document and related ones could have come to me through an act of whistle-blowing by a whole spectrum of vested interests or from a series of FOI requests from journalists, politicians and public-spirited individuals. You can also imagine that Ministers, Civil Servants and others in Scotland, NI and the RoI will have been keen to prevent the information from becoming public.

    Jim Wells DUP has taken up the challenge but needs support, not least from Slugger bloggers and commentators. Let’s hope he gets the same wonderful ‘ecumenical’ co-operation that I’ve been given.

    As Mick and other bloggers might say, let’s concentrate on the message, not on the messenger(s).

  • Some snippets from earlier thread that might get lost:


    I’ve heard from a very good friend on Cape Clear Island about this blog. I know for a fact that several young Islanders refuse to travel home at weekends during the winter since the current operator took over.
    Isn’t that such a pity and loss to the Island.

    Nip it in the bud now..
    Posted by Maura on Jun 25, 2008 @ 10:47 PM

    “a faster catamaran vessel”

    I believe Cape Clear is suppose to have a catamaran veesel down there since January last and still no sign of that!!

    hope Rathlin get theirs faster or is it the same one??
    Posted by peter on Jun 25, 2008 @ 11:20 PM

    The ‘new’ fast ferry advertised for Rathlin, the MV Ossian of Staffa still appears to be servicing the timetables of Gordon Grant Tours at present. They are offering a timetable which would require at least two boats to service, bookings could still be made today on all services, and no comments had been made about replacement boats….Hope the ferry is fast enough to get round Oban, Iona and Mull as well as Staffa then call down to Raghery. (Maybe Finn McCool is carrying it over the Giants Causeway from Staffa???)
    Posted by Mannanan on Jun 26, 2008 @ 10:05 AM

  • More trouble at mill. Slide cursor over image to read notes.

  • john

    “Nobody aparts from you, gives a flying f*ck”
    Wickerman you might not but most of Rathlin, Nearly all of cape clear and most of west cork do
    Go down and talk with them iv’e heard they could tell you alot more!!

  • John, perhaps we need to arrange a coach tour to West Cork for our 108 MLAs. Many of them seem to have a problem using the internet or reading the News Letter.

    Has the Examiner shown any interest in these Irish ferry tales?

  • Peat Blog

    It doesn’t really matter whether it’s the Rathlin ferry or the tooth fairy’s benefit claim, if there is a problem with tendering (or whatever) it is crucial that there is rigorous scrutiny. That’s how to keep democracy alive after all (and we sure need it).

    I know little of the ins and outs of this particular case but support those who feel there is something worth querying further.

  • Peat blog, there’s been an almost unanimous ‘ecumenical’ silence from the North Antrim MP, MLAs and councillors. Only one Moyle councillor, it seems, was prepared to put his/her head above the parapet.

    Jim Allister was prepared to look at the background to this case and he did so before I got involved.

    The print and broadcast media has had an opportunity to view some of the evidence but only Sam McBride of the News Letter and one or two local journalists have been prepared or have been permitted to do some in depth investigative reporting.

    I suspect Ministers and senior Civil Servants are more interested in finding out how the ‘interesting’ information winged its way to me than in responding to the serious questions posed. I’d be quite interested in finding out myself but, in the meantime, I’ll be challenging some MLAs to put public before party.

  • Peat Blog

    Sadly this isn’t (and probably won’t be) the only case where the fourth estate has failed – the problem is often that they depend for their daily or weekly fodder from our 800 or so elected representatives and so are often reluctant to bite the hand that feeds them (if you see what I mean). Hopefully that is where blogging comes in…

    Nothing needs to be said about the silence of politicians. Apart from a narrow range of issues, such as the constitutional question, “abominable” sex and their own pay/expenses/status, they don’t seem to grasp much (with a few notable exceptions).

  • john

    “John, perhaps we need to arrange a coach tour to West Cork for our 108 MLAs. Many of them seem to have a problem using the internet or reading the News Letter.

    Has the Examiner shown any interest in these Irish ferry tales? ”

    Nevin, No problem send them down.Our own had the same problem too using the internet and reading.

    As for the Irish examiner that would be telling!! They have had enough tales to cover down here since last year!!

    This was one the examiner covered


    what you think of that?

    or better this


  • John, perhaps you could persuade the Examiner to bring these strange happenings in the north-east and south-west to a wider audience. I wonder would the Indo be interested.

    I think the final paragraphs from the second link are worth posting in full:

    It is understood that attempts are being made in the North to alert relevant officials and politicians to possible irregularities and the operators track record at this end of the island of Ireland.

    Nelson’s column may have been demolished in Dublin, but it seems that “Blind eye” political/administrative practices, so famously used by that great British seaman, are very much part of the repertoire of government in the Republic. Perhaps their adoption in the North gives a whole new meaning to Cross-border Co-operation.

    The people of Rathlin and those trying to help them, have our sympathy and support, in particular the crew of the existing boat on that run. We understand that there is an intention to worsen their terms of service and pension rights and to remove the better qualified crew members in favour of less qualified and of course cheaper workers.

    The question must be asked, North and South, what is to be gained of such value that it justifies the promotion of lower standards, fewer and poorer jobs, and the engendering of fear and conflict within these small island communities.

    Have any other MEPs apart from Allister commented on ‘discrepancies’ in the paper work? Perhaps a fine tooth comb needs to be applied to the tender documents for the Cape Clear ferry too.

  • Patsi Bill

    Rathlin Ferry Comment
    I know you Northern Boys have already used the expression ‘farcical’ but you really have no idea yet. Down here we see the ferry service to Cape Clear lurching from calamity to calamity and next we hear the same outfit have outperformed Caledonian Mc Brae ?. In just a couple of weeks they have lost one ferry through stability problems, have had a second impounded for stability tests and it seems, made a complete hash of issuing a simple timetable. Nothing new to us, did anyone even look at their website and compare it to the Cal Mac one ?. Anyway, while last weeks events were unfolding in Ballycastle so too was their long awaited 2008 Summer Marketing Campaign for the Cape Clear Ferry Services which consists of littering the highways of West Cork with fly posters, lending a whole new meaning to the word tacky !.Imagine the red faces in corporate HQ, the week after the week that they go multinational, well sort of, when the penny drops about this latest cock up.. This will be followed, one imagines, by a rash in to the mainland and the burning of rubber on the West Cork highways in a race against time and the Environmental Officer to retrieve the posters some time very soon. Meanwhile all we need now are some nimble footed youngsters to start relocating the posters and we could have the most splendid and glorious farce since the days of Somerville and Ross.

    Patsi Bill.

  • john

    well said patsi bill..

    I thought it was an election campaign again in West Cork when i saw all this..

  • The singing sheep

    Just saw the “Election” Timetable poster.
    It doesn’t do much for the beauty of West Cork.
    I think they look Baaaaaaaaaad.
    What next? Sky writing,ads on tv or someone dressed as a ferry handing out brouchers,tacky..
    Things must be baaaaaaad when you stoop to that level.
    The singing sheep has left the building!