The proposed project is being financed by three families from Clare and Limerick with significant experience in the car ferry industry in the Shannon region. This project has been on the agenda for over 30 years but until now has never advanced to Planning stage.
The developers of the proposal, Carlingford Ferries, commissioned an independent Economic Impact Appraisal in late 2012 (completed by Dr Pat McCloughan ,PMCA Economic Consulting) which stated that in the region of 24 direct jobs and at least 300 knock on jobs could be created and sustained in the region as a result of the proposal.
It also suggests that the Ferry would create upwards of €10 million of additional annual spending in the region and would open up tourism and economic links between the two counties north and south of the border. It would enhance proposals for a Bridge at Narrow Water by creating a circular tourism route between the Mourne region and the Cooley Peninsula.
Paul O’ Sullivan, Director of Carlingford Ferries said: “We have been working on the Carlingford Lough Ferry proposal for a number of years. There is a compelling interest in the prospect that a car ferry service across the mouth of Carlingford Lough would bring destinations as far apart as the Boyne Valley in Co. Meath to Newcastle in Co. Down within touching distance of each other.
“The outstandingly beautiful coastal regions of the Cooley Peninsula and the Mournes have intrinsic natural attractions but restricted access to the area has been and continues to be, a major problem. The Northern Ireland Tourist Board has adopted the Mournes as a Signature Project for its potential as a world class destination.
“On the southern shore, Carlingford and the Cooley Peninsula is designated a European Destination of Excellence. The project would copper fasten links established in the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Newry and Mourne and Louth Local Authorities in 2011.
“We are committed to investing substantial private funds in this project. Our internal due diligence work, an independently conducted Environmental Impact Assessment under the auspices of the EU Habitats Directive, and various public investigations all confirm the operational, financial and navigational integrity of the Greenore – Greencastle ferry proposal. We have also engaged in intensive public consultation.
“The proposal would offer a very significant economic boost to the wider Cooley – Mournes region. Support was registered from both visitors and businesses surveyed. We have kept residents updated on plans to enhance the Greencastle Pier Road in Greencastle and consulted through various mechanisms including resident committee meetings, a survey, newsletter, drop in event and a public meeting.
“In our view, with the necessary infrastructure in place, and when marketed holistically, the Cooley-Mournes region is capable of becoming a major destination for Irish, British and overseas visitors and be a new stimulant for economic growth in the jobs rich tourism sector. ”
“If successful, the project could be operational within twelve months,” added Mr O’Sullivan.