Footballers pitch in to get ferry funds
OLIVIA KELLEHER - Irish Times Monday, February 23, 2009
CORK AND Kerry footballers may be bitter rivals on the GAA pitch but they joined forces over the weekend in order to secure funds for the resumption of the Swansea-Cork ferry service.
At a meeting in Killarney on Saturday, Kerry’s Colm “Gooch” Cooper and Cork footballer Donncha O’Connor set team loyalty aside to help highlight the need for the vital tourism link which was provided by the ferry service.
Their aim was to raise the awareness of an initiative which was launched this year to collect €3 million which is required to buy a new ferry. The money is needed by tomorrow.
To date more than 200 businesses and individuals have pledged €10,000 each – 300 are needed to resume the service.
Conor Buckley, chairman of West Cork Tourism, said there were no borders when it comes to the quest of raising the €3 million.
“It is imperative now for us all to pull together to make this happen. We are doing this not just for Cork or Kerry – this is for a brighter future for the southwest as a whole.
“We are so close to success, but we must keep the pressure on to enable us to score the critical goal in the closing minutes – and that’s all we need.”
Since the discontinuation of the service in the winter of 2006, it is estimated that the regional economy in the southwest lost €38 million in tourism-related revenue during the 2007 season. Figures for the 2008 season are expected to be even higher.
If successful, the initiative will translate into thousands of jobs.
The new ferry is expected to cost about €10 million, of which the co-operative will be expected to provide €3 million.
Supporters of the initiative say it offers a unique opportunity to stimulate the long-stay tourism market in the southwest.
People are being urged to contact co-ordinator Paul O’Brien (087) 785 7619 with their pledges.