Page last updated at 16:37 GMT, Thursday, 26 February 2009

Deadline extended for ferry bid

Empty terminal at Swansea
The ferry has not sailed out of Swansea since late 2006

A consortium working to restore the Swansea to Cork ferry has been granted an extra two weeks to raise the money.

Backers say over 2m of the 2.5m in private money needed to buy the ship has been pledged.

They had been working to a deadline of Thursday but have negotiated an extension to 10 March.

Visiting Swansea this week they said the return of the service which ceased in 2006 would boost tourism and business in south Wales.

It is estimated the ferry is worth 70m to the combined economies of southern Wales and Ireland.

Conor Buckley, chairman of West Cork Tourism, said: "This is good news as we are now so close and what we needed was time.

"The urgency of raising the remainder needed to secure the regions future cannot be stated enough.

"The campaign is on its knees at this point for the final pledges - its do or die at this point."

Earlier this week addressing potential investors in Swansea, Peter Isle of STS International said: "If there was a ferry service from Cork to Swansea there would be a weekend shopping opportunity to Irish residents."

We've got two ports who are keen and who can see the great benefits to this service
Matthew Kennerkey, ABP Swansea

He said there would also be significant interest from hauliers on both sides of the Irish Sea and from tourists heading from the south of the UK and Europe to Cork.

The consortium has identified a 340 cabin ferry capable of carrying 1,400 passengers. It also has restaurants, bars and a cinema.

But the consortium only has a few days left before it must finalise the bid.

The rest of the money would come from a loan issued by a bank with a vested interest in the boat, business interests in the shipping and freight industry, Cork County Council and other agencies.

Captain Frank Allen, who was involved with the previous operators, is heading the venture.

"Both ports miss the ferry, it was good business for the ports," he said.

Matthew Kennerkey, port director in Swansea, said: "It is a viable service with a sound business plan behind it.

"There is a suitable ship available at short notice... and a passionate operator.

"We've got two ports who are keen and who can see the great benefits to this service.

"All we need to do now is see the bridging of the funding gap."

Print Sponsor

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