A MEMBER of a West Cork family which operated a ferry service between Cape Clear and the mainland has seen the ferry service she operated in Northern Ireland cease to trade today.
Rathlin Island Ferry Ltd, which is owned by Mary O’Driscoll who also owns the Cape Clear Island Holiday Centre, announced the news on its website today.
Ferry crew members had threatened strike action amid a row over pay. The Rathlin Island Ferry Ltd (RIFL) ran the service on behalf of Stormont’s Department for Infrastructure.
Mary and her husband Ciarán O’Driscoll operated the Cape Clear Ferry from 2006 until 2008 but crew members went on strike over pay cuts and changes to hours. The vessel, which operated on that route, the Naomh Ciaran II, was later sold.
The couple had also been due to start a ferry business in Torquay around the time they put their bar and restaurant on Cape Clear up for sale in 2014.
Earlier today, the company, which operated the only ferry service between Rathlin island and the mainland, ceased trading. ‘It is with regret that RIFL are ceasing to operate the ferry service between Rathlin Island and Ballycastle this afternoon. Because of financial difficulty an insolvency practitioner has been appointed to place the company into liquidation,’ they posted on their website.
There were fears that islanders would be deprived of a service but the Department for Infrastructure confirmed this evening that a new operator has been appointed to run the service connecting Rathlin Island to Ballycastle.
‘Dunaverty Limited will initially operate five return passenger only sailings a day from this Friday January 13th,’ said a spokesperson.’
Once all the relevant approvals are in place with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), the full scheduled timetable of sailings will commence including the Department’s vehicle carrying vessel, the Spirit of Rathlin.
When contacted by The Southern Star, owner Mary O’Driscoll declined to make a comment.