Armstrong calls for clarity on Strangford ferry service

Alliance Strangford MLA Kellie Armstrong has called for the Department for Infrastructure to provide clarity about its commitment to operating a ferry service on Strangford Lough, after it left passengers stranded following a suspended service last month.

Kellie Armstrong

Ms Armstrong recently wrote to the Department regarding the problem, which occurred on December 26 due to an electrical fault, only to be told there was no issue, an assertion the Alliance representative disagrees with.

“On Boxing Day, one of the ferries went out of service without appropriate notice being given, with the other unavailable due to lack of crew numbers. That left passengers stranded without a way to cross back over the other side of the Lough. The Department has confirmed there is no intention to provide alternative arrangements in a situation like this,” she said.

“It meant a number of people, including those visiting family over the festive period and hospitality workers, were essentially abandoned by the lack of a ferry. That’s not good enough. The people of Strangford are not second-class citizens to be abandoned due to poor planning and lack of ferry maintenance.

“I have written to the Department and while the Permanent Secretary is unable to meet me, he has confirmed the ferry will remain out of commission until repairs are carried out next week. He has further stated no alternative arrangements are in place to address any future similar scenario which arises.

“It is disappointing the Department insists there is a 98-99 per cent service availability, when that figure excludes how often the ferry is taken out of service at short notice. As a local resident, I am calling on the Department to provide clarity around its commitment to operating a ferry service on Strangford Lough.”