Lough Foyle Ferry service between Magilligan and Greencastle will not run again unless a new operator and vessel is found.
Lough Foyle Ferry Company have confirmed that they have sold their vessel Foyle Venture to Frazer Ferries, and have informed Donegal County Council and Causeway Coast and Glen Council that they will not be seeking to renew the contract to operate the service when the current agreement expires at the end of next March. Manager Jim McClenaghan told the Derry Journal they had no option but to cease service and sell the ferry as it has been “running on a shoestring” for a number of years and their “pleas for funding fell on deaf ears.”
Limerick based Frazer Ferries hope to inaugurate a new crossing between Greenore (RoI) and Greencastle (Co. Down) next year, with construction of the terminal at Greenore understood to have begun earlier in the year. The service will be marketed as “Carlingford Ferries” and will cut the journey time from around an hour by car to just 15 minutes by ferry. It is understood that Frazer Ferries have invested upwards of £7m in the new route, which is to be entirely privately funded.
The Lough Foyle ferry service has carried around 2.5 million passengers between Greencastle, Co. Donegal and Magilligan in Co. Londonderry since being established in 2002. The crossing time of around 15 minutes saved around 49 miles of driving. The service closed for the winter on 4th October, and will not resume again before the current contract expires. It is understood that the decision not to continue the service was made due to a lack of available funding – something the operator has appealed for numerous times over the past few years. All 14 permanent staff and seasonal workers have lost their jobs as a result of the service closure. At present it is not known if another operator will or can be found to operate the service, though statements from members of Donegal County Council suggest that they are keen for the service to continue.