Sunday, 16 May 2010

Rathlin Island Ferry Limited - An Unexpected Revelation

Slugger O'Toole May 17

I had a rather unusual encounter the other day with Ciaran O Driscoll, one of the directors of Rathlin Ireland Ferry Limited. He was obviously a bit agitated. He was anxious to impress on me that my stories about company operations in Co Antrim and Co Cork were too negative. However, I don't do press releases of the 'positive' style that sometimes appear as media news items and badgering a blogger isn't necessarily a smart move.

Part of the exchange went something like this:

Ciaran: "How's X?"

Me: "Not too bad but she's missing Ballycastle."

Ciaran: "Well, she could still have been here if Y had cooperated ..."

He may have some difficulty explaining the meaning of this revelation at the forthcoming industrial tribunal. I understood that Y's departure came about when the business and engineering management position occupied by Y was made redundant shortly after the change of ferry operators due to alleged financial difficulties.

Is the management of the new operator up to the standard of the previous one? Who is in charge when the directors are absent for weeks at a time, working either hundreds or thousands of miles away? Who is supervising the maintenance of the ferries? Would the ferries have spent less time out of service and the repair bills have been greatly reduced if the previous arrangements had been maintained? If the Department for Regional Development's Strangford Ferry service requires professional maintenance management why not the Rathlin one? Do DRD and MCA have the necessary expertise and will to monitor and regulate the Ballycastle-Rathlin ferry operation?

Added May 21, 2010

Section 21 covers minimum manning levels as well the training and minimum qualifications for the Master and crew. Annex 3 covers staff induction and familiarisation training.