Mr. John David Taylor
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on how many days in the current year 44W there has only been one ferryboat operating between Portaferry and Strangford due to technical problems; what proposals he has to overcome this problem; if he has received complaints about the service in the current year; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Chris Patten
Other than at peak holiday periods the service normally operates using one vessel. A service was maintained for every day this year except for a 12 hour period on 1–2 May and a six-day period from 8–13 June. These breaks in service were caused by mechanical failure occurring simultaneously in the main vessel and in the back-up vessel.
The Department of the Environment has received complaints about the service in the current year but repairs have been completed and normal service has resumed. Regular planned maintenance is carried out annually on both ferries.