Conveying vehicles from one jurisdiction to another..

Ahead of a Northern Ireland Assembly adjournment debate on funding for the Lough Foyle Ferry, Stormont Live carried a short report and studio discussion with SDLP MLA Mary Bradley – you can view that below the fold. The BBC report that Assembly members called on the Department for Regional Development to help fund the cross-border ferry service when the current contract with Limavady and Donegal Councils ends in June, although Hansard records that the debate was adjourned at 7.32pm last night. But here’s one of the reasons given by the Regional Development Minister, Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy, for his department’s refusal of funding.

Having considered the legislation, the Department is of the view that the powers to provide support for road ferry services do not extend to the ferry service across Lough Foyle, because it conveys vehicles from one jurisdiction to another.

[From here to there? – Ed]
From Stormont Live

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  • 6cp

    Dripping with irony!

  • Brian Walker

    Irony indeed, and you would think it would be a prime candidate for the NS ministerial council. It should be a real tourist boon, despite the low pound and cuts about 25 miles off the journey from Belfast before you hit Inishowen. If they can’t keep the ferry going for 200K a year what can they keep going? If it goes, I hope they can mothball the vessel and bring it out again in better times.

    From the Derry Journal, Dec 08
    “The Lough Foyle service saw a drop of 9,761 cars and almost 60,000 passengers from June’07 to June ’08, a report issued to Donegal County Council this week revealed. Donegal County Council paid a subvention of e75,000 to the operator of the Foyle Ferry service. “

  • Ball Erin

    Billy Leonard (via a letter to the Irish News) told us all that Sinn Fein were committed to the ferry link.Obviously Sinn Fein ministers aren’t that committed.

    Conspiracy theory:2016

    Ruane,Gildernew and now Murphy are secretly working to make the six county statelet ungovernable due to wholescale mismanagement.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Aye there are Translink buses or trains that travel between the two jurasdictions.

    Or have they got Public Service Obligations in place?

    Do any of the other ferry services subsidised by DRD i.e Rathlin and Strangford?

    I think the Scottish Government are experiencing a few EU Commission problems regarding that very same issue…….

  • Pigeon Toes

    I believe DRD have £500,000 kicking around for harbour works to facilitate the Rathlin Ferry Operator and their proposed catamaran.

    The sum of £150K initially quoted for works was deemed “not significant” by a DRD official, to get around clauses in the contract.

    The ferry Operator also insists that he does not require these works (At the moment Moyle Council are allowing him to use pontoons which it is understood were funded for non-commercial use).

    Perhaps DRD committee might want to look at the £500,000 which should keep this vital and more heavily utilised ferry going.

    Ironic that Rathlin with a poulation of around 70-80 has 10return sailings in the summer and is subsidised (officially) to the tune of over £4million for 6 years.

  • Here’s Professor Kay’s submission on ferries, Public Service Obligation (PSO)et al; it might shed some light on our little local ‘difficulties’.

    Brian, Jim McClenaghan has the other ferry up for sale, the one across Lough Swilly. As both contracts are up for renewal it might be a good idea to get your FOI request in now re.correspondence on ferry services between the two Governments. You never know, another operator may already have been lined up.

    DRD had proposed that £7.5m would be spent on the Rathlin ferry route; it was given £1.2m so, perhaps, some of that apparently now unneeded money could be reallocated.

  • picador

    I can’t see the logic in ending the funding in June rather than, say October. Perhaps there is no logic.

  • PT, if EU officials are unhappy with DARD’s application of EU regulations and obligations perhaps it’s only a matter of time before they cast the spotlight on DRD activities.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Picador, the contract runs out on 13th June, which would be a great time fora new operator to start.

    Wonder if there will be a miraculous finding of money down the back of the sofa, should the contract be awarded to another operator?

    I understand that DRCGA and DRD work very “closely” on these matters….

  • Picador, the funding/subsidy ended in 2007:

    The operator of both services has indicated that without the necessary subvention, he has no choice but to cease operating. Jim McClenaghan, managing director of the Lough Foyle Ferry company, said the contracts for both services are up in June 2009.

    “Since the subvention was cut off in 2007, we had to put the fares up to keep operating which caused a fall-off in numbers. Then we were hit with fuel prices and bad weather. We just cannot do it without some financial aid,” he said.

  • Pigeon Toes

    “Conspiracy theory:2016

    Ruane,Gildernew and now Murphy are secretly working to make the six county statelet ungovernable due to wholescale mismanagement.”

    Do you think any of them are smart enough to act that stupid?

  • joeCanuck

    Naw, Pigeon Toes. If they were to try to do that, they would make the ferry one-way. Which way would be the big question, of course.

  • cynic

    Forgive me but £250k a year? Who would want to go to either location for that amount of money. It’s a nonsense. If its that valuable raise the fares and it will survive.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Cynic, the same could be said for the Ballycastle Campbeltown Ferry, which both governments have seemed keen on – but realised way back in 08 erm they did not have the funds (According to well placed rumoura).

    It will be interesting to see whether they announce the go ahead for this particular ferry to and from nowhere.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Perhaps Conor had a sneaky preview of this reporthttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/northern_ireland/7897870.stm

    Were all the subsidies legal in the first instance.

    Will the EU perhaps ask for some ferry subsidies to be paid back?

    I’m sure DRD Officials are very keen to learn the outcome in Scotland.

  • Adjournment Debate – Magilligan to Green Castle Ferry – Tuesday, February 17, 2009

    Minister Murphy has produced the following interesting explanation:

    The Department’s powers with regard to ferry services are contained in the Roads Order 1993. Those powers enable the Department to provide and to support road ferry services. However, in the 1993 Order, “road ferry service” has a particular definition. It is, in effect, a service for conveying vehicles by boat from a road, across the water, to another road. In the context of the Order, the word “road” also has a particular meaning. It is defined as a public road that the Department maintains.

    Having considered the legislation, the Department is of the view that the powers to provide support for road ferry services do not extend to the ferry service across Lough Foyle, because it conveys vehicles from one jurisdiction to another.

    Does this mean that the DRD should not be subsidising a passenger only ferry to Rathlin and that it should not have budgeted £1.2 million for such a ferry? Also are the private operators on the route who saw there business ‘decimated’ entitled to compensation? There was no way they could compete with a subsidised fare set by the DRD.

    I should point out that where those powers have been used, it has been the policy of the Department not to subsidise harbour authorities.

    Does this mean that Moyle District Council will have to raise £150,000 for the proposed new pontoons and other works in Ballycastle and Rathlin harbours to accommodate the, er, ‘non-road ferry’ service?

  • As ever, we rely on Nevin for the full skinny.

    Surely the answer to Murphy’s conundrum (it’s a sub-set of the toast-and-butter theorem) is for the sign, Fáilte go Chomhairle Chontae Dhún na nGall, to be moved back five yards, and the repair rights on those yards ceded to the DRD. Then the road, both sides of the Lough, would be a NI road. So the subsidy could legally be maintained.

    Alternatively, somebody, somewhere is playing funny buggers.

    Last time I flew into Eglinton, the car park was full of Donegal registrations. Since the airport seems awash with subsidy (the credit-crunching savings amount to £600K p.a. — hardly General Motors stuff), surely a small smidgeon could be hived off for an essential link. Then there’s the avalanche of money descending on the A2 — not just to provide a better link for Derry to the rest of NI, but explicitly “to integrate with future motorway schemes from Derry to the Irish Republic border at Aughnacloy” (which makes nonsense of this present jurisdiction quibble).

    Is it churlish of me to point out that Conor Murphy, while not taking his seat at Westminster, does claim his due monies. I see that theyworkforyou.com [sic] sums that at £131,921 for 2006/7: which would neatly cover most of this subsidy.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Malcolm,

    I wonder will Conor be stopping all the publicly funded Translink trains, buses etc which move betweeen the two jurasdictions?

    Or are DRD talking out of their backsides again?

    I understand that Nevin has acquired some interesting material where DRD Officials have um been caught telling blatant big fat ones.

  • Pigeon Toes

    “So the subsidy could legally be maintained”

    Erm not without a Public Service Obligation apparently (exists for Translink routes)

    “In transport, Public Service Obligation are where an authority such as a Government offers an auction for subsidies and awards the winning company a monopoly to operate a specified public transport service for a specified period of time in return for the subsidy. PSOs are used in cases where the market is not big enough for routes to be commercially profitable but where there is a social necessity for the routes being available.
    paying attention to the significance of European Court’s 1994 Altmark ruling – this relates to regulations around compensation or subsidy for services of general economic interest ….Then this Spring (2008), the EC announced that it was going to investigate Scottish ferry services for apparent failure on the part of the government to clearly define and justify PSOs in Scotland; and for its apparent failure to comply with the Altmark criteria here”http://forargyll.com/2008/12/calmac-ferry-network-said-to-be-at-risk-because-scottish-government-has-refused-to-consider-public-service-obligations/

    Interestinng that the governments sought a PSO for the doomed Ballycastle-Campbeltown route in order to subsidise it. Yet no PSO exists on the Rathlin Ferry route.

    DRD must be hoping that whistleblowers don’t that particular little problem with the EU, (if they havent already done so)……

  • “I understand that Nevin has acquired some interesting material”

    That should lead to a bit of a run on NALIL blog 🙂

  • “the doomed Ballycastle-Campbeltown route”

    I’m hearing that Minister Foster has been in conversation with two Scottish ministers with a view to resurrecting the service …

  • picador

    Good luck to her. A short cut to the Highlands and Islands would be brilliant.

    As for our short-cut to Inishowen I hope to be using that soon.

    Is there still a ferry from Warrenpoint to Omeath. And, if so, does it receive subsidies?

    Where else in Ireland, north or south, do ferry services run? Off the top of my head I know of Killimer to Tarbert; and Cobh to Passage West.

  • Pigeon Toes

    “Alternatively, somebody, somewhere is playing funny buggers”

    Which in DRD speak is known as an “error of judgenemnt”

    Perhaps Messrs Rowsell and Hamilton might like to earn another £55k “investigating” this one, (despite having no legal qualifications)

  • “we rely on Nevin for the full skinny”

    I had to look that one up, Malcolm. I thought it might have referred to a naked plunge into the icy waters of Moyle 🙂

    I do have some very useful sources across these two islands but some of the revelations can be attributed to the incompetence and machinations of public servants and the bottomless pit of Google cache. Apparently the appearance of such revelations on Slugger and NALIL have more or less been used as grounds for the refusal of an FOI request by another Government!!

  • Talking of silly buggers, Malcolm, you’ll probably like this little local difficulty for the DRD that I hinted at a few days ago:

    Following an FOI request, a senior DRD official asserts that DRD received the letter/correspondence from the sender at a meeting on December 8, 2008. …

    Unfortunately for the DRD, the recipient discovered that lesser DRD officials had been in discussion with Calmac about the contents of the letter prior to December 8

    Oh dear …

  • Pigeon Toes

    Nevin,

    Just read the blog. How will DRD be able to explain that they were in receipt of this correspondence on 19/11/08, if er, um it wasn’t given to them until 08/12/08?

    Perhaps they could add “psychic ability” to their core values.

    Exactly who is lying?

    Did minor officials lie to the senior official, who based his reponse on that, or was the senior official complicit in the lie?

    Or did they just ot expect to get caught out.

    It might take more tha £55k to “white”wash this one

  • Pigeon Toes

    Nevin,

    Just read the blog. How will DRD be able to explain that they were in receipt of this correspondence on 19/11/08, if er, um it wasn’t given to them until 08/12/08?

    Perhaps they could add “psychic ability” to their core values.

    Exactly who is lying?

    Did minor officials lie to the senior official, who based his reponse on that, or was the senior official complicit in the lie?

    Or did they just not expect to get caught out.

    It might take more tha £55k to “white”wash this one

  • David Ford MLA and Sluggerite has really put Minister Murphy on the spot with this ferry question:

    7. Mr D Ford (South Antrim):

    To ask the Minister for Regional Development what time the last ferry sailed from Ballycastle to Rathlin on Mondays and Fridays in (i) September; (ii) October; and (iii) November, in 2008 and 2009.

    (AQW 5364/09)

  • Brendan O Neill

    I operate the Passenger Ferry on Carlingford Lough.
    The Ferry from Warrenpoint to Omeath is a daily service, seven days a week during the summer months .
    Could do with some funding to lenghten the Quay in Omeath about 30 meters or so , or even a pontoon arrangment would be very suitable.
    Brendan.

  • Brendan O Neill

    Yes I Brendan O Neill operate the Ferry, seven days a week between Warrenpoint and Omeath during the summer months.