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Maiden voyage of Greencastle ferry service set for early June

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Maiden voyage of Greencastle ferry service set for early June thumbnailMore heavy machinery has moved into Greencastle to prepare for the ferry.

THE first ferry passage from Greencastle to Greenore will set sail this summer.

This is the hope of the ferry company behind the ambitious project who suggest it could be launched as early as June.

It comes as heavy machinery moved into Greencastle last week for the latest stage of preparatory work.

Work on the long-awaited and often controversial Greencastle Ferry is moving ever closer to that maiden voyage across Carlingford Lough.

Roadworks have been ongoing on the Greencastle Pier Road surface since last September. This work was needed before site work could happen.

“Construction work has commenced and we're planning to have the ferry service operational by the early part of the summer," said Paul O'Sullivan, of Carlingford Lough Ferries.

The new service is expected to create about 300 direct and indirect jobs.

The ferry, which will link the Mournes and Cooley mountain ranges with a 14-minute crossing time, has been a contentious issue with residents who live along the Greencastle Pier Road.

Last September they said they had still not given up their fight to stop the ferry crossing from being constructed.

Just last month, it is understood that the Greencastle Area Residents Group (GARG) contacted planning officials as they "believed that condition two of the Greencastle Ferry planning permission approval has been breached as work has commenced on site before the completion of the roadworks".

However a council spokesman said that the "developer may commence work at any stage up to the end of the original five-year time limit".

“While Newry, Mourne and Down District Council issued planning permission for the project, it is up to the developer as to when the project starts.

“The council are currently assessing applications to discharge some of the pre-commencement conditions of P/2013/0434/, once these have been agreed by the Planning Authority,  the developer may commence work at any stage up to the end of the original five-year time limit," said council.

Tourism bodies across Ireland believe that the service will help them promote the Mournes and Cooley region as a single destination.

The 1.3-mile crossing will operate from 7am until 9.30pm in high season, leaving Greencastle on the hour and Greenore on the half-hour. The ferry will have the capacity for more than 30 cars.

The crossing would take just 14 minutes and cuts out a 33-mile car journey of often more than an hour, depending on congestion in Newry.

The project is being financed by three families from Clare and Limerick with significant experience in the car ferry industry in the Shannon region.

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