31/01/2013 – Statement from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht regarding the ferry service to Árainn
Statement from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht regarding the ferry service to Árainn
The ferry contract to Árainn (Inis Mór) will discontinue today, 31 January 2013. In accordance with the regulations to be complied with by public bodies regarding public procurement, the Department advertised for expressions of interest on the etenders system and the tender documents were issued with a closing date of 21 December 2012. The Department received no tenders.
The Department then entered into discussions with the ferry operator currently providing a service to Árainn with a view to renewing the current contract on the same terms which have been in place to date. Those talks failed, as the Department was not in a position to sanction a considerable increase of a subsidy for a service which is profitable as it stands. Therefore, there will be no contract in operation after the 31 January 2013.
The Department clearly understands from the ferry operator that he is in a position – without a State grant – to continue with providing the same service to Árainn following the discontinuation of the contract, including the bus service, as it is commercially viable. He also clearly indicated that he intends to do this.
Department officials met with community representatives from Árainn last Friday to explain the matter to them.
A new contract has been agreed between the Department and Aran Ferries Teo to provide a passenger ferry service between Inis Meáin/Inis Oírr and the mainland for the period 1 November 2012 to 31 October 2017. This contract was agreed as a result of a tender process. An effort was made at that time to incorporate the three islands, but this was also unsuccessful as the Department could not agree to the considerable increase associated with that part of the service which relates to Árainn alone (this would entail an increase of over 300%).
Also, as a result of a tendering process, a new contract has been agreed between the Department and the Lasta Mara company to provide a cargo service between Oileáin Árann and the mainland for the period 1 January 2013 and 31 December 2017.
A summary is given in the table below of the assistance currently being provided by the Department to ferry and air services to Árainn. Of course, the current air services and airstrip management services contract is due to end on 31 August 2013.
Island Company 2013
Inis Meáin/Oírr Aran Ferries 733,333.33
Oileáin Árann Lasta Mara Teo 752,701.16
Árainn Island Ferries Teo 7,900.90
PSO Aer Arann Islands 1,125,000.00
Bainistíocht Aerphoirt Teoranta 228,110.00
Total for 2013 €2,847,045.39