The MV Shingle.

Revenue offer ship to sink in Killala Bay

THE Revenue Commissioners have offered a ship to be sunk in Killala Bay as part of a plan to attract divers to the area.

The 60-metre MV Shingle won't cost a cent – Revenue have offered the confiscated boat for free.

Councillor Michael Loftus has been pushing for the project for some time now. Given its location, it would be a joint Sligo/Mayo venture.

He told a local tourism committee meeting that a motion is coming before Sligo County Council at their next meeting. He hopes also to have a motion before Mayo County Council when they next meet.

Arising from media coverage of a previous tourism meeting, the Revenue Commissioners had gotten in touch with their offer of the free ship.

Councillor Loftus has met with Fáilte Ireland who have asked for updated figures on bed nights, etc., that would be generated by the project.

A feasibility study has already been carried out on the project.

Councillor Loftus cited other locations where sinkings have been a huge success in drawing visitors, for example in Malta, where 40 ships have been sunk around the coast.

Killala Bay is a 'most ideal location', he said.

The MV Shingle was seized by customs officers in June 2014, when armed gardaí found a shipment of over 32 million cigarettes and 4,000kg of tobacco at Drogheda Port.

The operation followed months of work and the consignment would have represented a loss to the Exchequer of almost €13 million if it had been sold on the black market.

The ship was subsequently transferred by Revenue to Dublin Port, where it remains almost five years later because of the State’s inability to dispose of it.

To date, over €400,000 has been incurred by Revenue over the holding of the vessel, the majority of which are lay-up costs charged by Dublin Port Company.

Revenue was unable to do anything with the MV Shingle until legal proceedings in relation to the seizure had been completed.

In June 2017, the High Court made an order of forfeiture of the ship to the State, which initially considered selling it.

It was reported last September that a decision was taken to send the MV Shingle to a specialist recycling facility to be disposed after asbestos was discovered on board.

The surveyor said that if arrangements were not made to deal with the ship within a reasonable time span, there was the potential of substantial additional costs being incurred by the State.

However that issue now appears to have been addressed.