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Some families threaten to leave small Co Donegal island over ferry service concerns

Some families have threatened to leave Tory Island in Co Donegal over changes to the current ferry service
Marie Louise McConville

Some families have threatened to leave an island off the coast of Donegal for good over changes to the current ferry service.

Some of Tory Island's 150 residents are also planning to travel to Dublin next week to stage a protest at the gates of Leinster House over plans to replace the current ferry with a vessel which was built in 1976.

Controversy over the service arose last year after a contract for the ferry was put out to tender.

The company which operates the current vessel, the Tormór, put in a tender, alongside the operator of an older ferry, the Queen of Aran. The latter was awarded the contract.

As a result, a series of local meetings took place with islanders voicing their warning that they will leave the island for good if the ageing ferry comes into service, as planned, in April.

It has been reported islanders are also considering blocking the Queen of Aran from docking on Tory.

Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty, a Donegal TD, called on the government to buy out the contract of the Queen of Aran's owner and recommission the existing ferry as a temporary measure.

"The islanders are making the point that we have now gone back 20 years in terms of the type of service," he said.

"Sentiment on the island is very sincere about this - they're very, very committed to making sure this is resolved".

A statement on behalf of Joe McHugh, Minister of State for Gaeilge, Gaeltacht and the Islands, said he had met with residents about the issue.

"At the meeting on Friday last, the Department indicated that it would be open to looking at a range of options for future ferry services to the Island including, the possibility of purchasing a new vessel, building a bespoke vessel, subsidising the provision of a separate fast ferry service for the island to supplement both the new service scheduled to commence on 1st April 2018 and the island's subsidised weekly winter air service"

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