Carlingford Lough Greenore to Greencastle ferry service begins in summer
A new ferry service linking the Republic with Northern Ireland on Carlingford Lough is due to commence this summer.
The long-awaited service between Greenore, Co Louth, and Greencastle, Co Down, is expected to be up and running by June, according to Paul O'Sullivan of Carlingford Lough Ferries.
The crossing over the mouth of the lough will take just 15 minutes. Currently it takes more than an hour to reach either side by road.
An economic impact assessment conducted in 2013 found the ferry service could generate millions of pounds for the region each year.
"Construction work has commenced and we're planning to have the ferry service operational by the early part of the summer," Mr O'Sullivan told Dundalk weekly newspaper The Argus.
The new service will not only create about 300 direct and indirect jobs, the drive-on, drive-off service will open up the region to tourism, he said.
"We are confident that this will prove to be a very attractive service, linking the Cooley peninsula with the Mountains of Mourne. It is something that the tourism agencies, Failte Ireland, Northern Ireland Tourism see as providing the ability to market the two regions together as one," he explained.
He doesn't believe the fallout from Brexit will scupper the service. "Brexit hasn't changed our plans, we are still moving forward," he told the newspaper.
The service will run from 7am to 9.30pm during the summer months, and from 7am to 7pm from October to March.
Fares for the crossings have yet to be determined. However, Mr O'Sullivan said they will be "affordable as we know that there will be people using it to cross the lough on a daily or weekly basis as well as tourists, so we will have a multiple trip ticket".
The project was first proposed a decade ago but was bogged down in objections lodged over environmental and other concerns.