The new Rathlin Express Catamaran has arrived at Rathlin Island Harbour with 100 passengers for the first time.
Mr Ciarán O’Driscoll, from Cape Clear Island — Ireland’s most southerly island — won the ferry contract for the service from Ballycastle to Rathlin Island, Ireland’s most northerly island.
“The introduction of a new fast passenger service between Rathlin and Ballycastle will enhance the tourism product in both centres,” said Mr O’Driscoll.
The operating company will be Rathlin Island Ferry Limited. The O’Driscoll companies already run two ferry services to the West Cork Islands of Whiddy Island and Cape Clear Island.
Mr O’Driscoll said: “Having been born and bred on an island I am very aware of the challenges that islanders face.
“Access is the most important aspect as this is our lifeline for everything. Improved ferry services will improve the life standard of the islanders all year round. Employment is another critical consideration for island dwellers and I do not envisage any staff reductions; indeed I would foresee a need for additional recruitment as the business develops.”
The catamaran will make the crossing between Ballycastle and Rathlin in approximately 20 minutes.