I propose to take Questions Nos. 150 and 165 together.
The Cork Swansea Ferry Company suspended its service in 2007. I can appreciate the concerns that have been expressed in the region in response to this development. The Port of Cork Company is continuing to engage in discussions with a number of interested parties and stakeholders with a view to the latter commencing a new passenger and freight service on the Cork-Swansea route. The Port of Cork Company also completed a feasibility study on the route and this indicated that a service, subject to procuring a suitable vessel, could be feasible for an operator for year round passenger and freight operations. The Port of Cork Company will continue to do what it can to facilitate the resumption of the service.
As Minister of State for Transport, I feel it is important that the market offers a diverse range of maritime links in and out of the State. This is vital to facilitate trade and tourism. I certainly hope that the current efforts show that the service is commercially viable and that it can be resumed as soon as possible. It is not the practice to subsidise international shipping routes, nor are there any funds available to my Department for this purpose. However, there are two European Commission programmes that encourage development of transnational shipping routes with the objective of shifting freight from the roads network; they are the Motorways of the Sea and Marco Polo programmes. These programmes are run by the European Commission and are guided by a specific set of rules and framework. The Irish Maritime Development Office regularly publishes full details of these programmes on its website (www.imdo.ie).