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Valentia Island

'It will destroy tourism here': Islanders worried as ferry set to be decomissioned

Michael Healy-Rae has called the ferry a “lifeline” to the people of south Kerry.

MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT Shane Ross has accepted a request from Michael Healy-Rae to meet locals from Valentia island seeking to save their ferry service.

The ferry is due to be decommissioned in 2018, due to the boat’s old age, and funding is required to help meet the cost of purchasing a new one.

According to a statement from Healy-Rae, it is expected that Ross will meet locals in the first weeks of the new year.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Richard Foran, who operates the Valentia Island Ferry, said that losing the ferry would destroy tourism on the island.

“We have the bridge to the mainland on the other side of the island, but the main town of the island is on the other side,” he said. “Losing the ferry would force businesses there to close down. The ferry is the main way to get into the town.”

valentia island The bridge is on the south of the island, but the main town and port is Knight's Town to the east Google maps Google maps

The ferry has been running for over 20 years, and has been “fantastic” for the area, according to Foran. However, it is has become clear a new boat is required.

The new ferry will cost €3 million, with householders and businesses from the area able to supply the first €1 million towards the price.

Foran added: “We run the ferry from March to October, and this year we had 250,000 passengers. It’s a vital part of tourist infrastructure for south Kerry.”

Located near the Skellig Ring, tourism in the south Kerry area has exploded in recent times, with the shooting of the Star Wars films, and an endorsement from travel guide The Lonely Planet providing a boost to visitor numbers in the region.

Lonely Planet Best in Travel Recent Star Wars films have been shot on Skellig Michael Brian Lawless PA Wire / PA Images Brian Lawless PA Wire / PA Images / PA Images

Healy-Rae thanked Ross for agreeing to meet the locals. He said: “The Minister has shown great concern and interest on this issue. Despite his busy schedule, I am grateful he will take the time to give attention to this.”

Read: Islanders get a Christmas reprieve as Inis Mór ferry resumes until new year

Read: Islanders will be able to vote on the same day as the rest of the country

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