Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Passenger Ferry Service.


asked the Minister for Transport and Power if he will request the appropriate authority to open a passenger ferry service between Glasgow and Rathmullen, County Donegal during the tourist season.

It is open to any company which may be interested to operate a shipping service between Glasgow and Rathmullen. As the Deputy is aware, the company which previously provided a passenger service on the Glasgow-Derry route had to discontinue its service a few years ago for economic reasons including the falling off in passenger traffic on the route. Since then services operating into Belfast and Larne have been considerably improved and expanded and I am advised that the commercial prospects for a service to Donegal which would have to compete with these short sea routes would not be good.

Is the Minister aware that Donegal has suffered considerably in its tourist business as a result of what may be described as the troubles in the Six Counties and that a number of cross-channel visitors dread travelling through the Six Counties on their way to Donegal? Is he further aware that if they come by the alternative route, via Dublin, they have a considerably longer distance to travel? Is he further aware that if a commercial ferry could be operated between Donegal, Rathmullen and Glasgow and possibly——

Later on, possibly, Killybegs. Let us get one first— it would be an incentive to tourists to come to Donegal. It would further assist commercial exports from the county to cross-channel and to other ports. I refer to commodities such as potatoes. It would avoid prospective tourists having to travel through the troubled Six Counties in the coming tourist season.

Let us get our priorities right, first things first. I have initiated discussions with the tourist interests in the north of Ireland with a view to ensuring that our tourist income north and south in the coming 12 months does not diminish by reason of what Deputy O'Donnell refers to as the troubles.

You would want to include Paisley in these discussions or you will get nowhere.