A settlement has been reached in a High Court dispute over the awarding of the contract for the ferry service between the mainland and Inishturk Island in Co Mayo.
O’Malley Ferries (Clare Island) Ltd, which ran the ferry for the last 10 years, brought the challenge to the awarding of a €1.7 million contract for the service to a rival firm.
The family-run O’Malley firm, which also provides a service to Clare Island, lost out to Clare Island Ferry and Clew Bay Cruises Ltd when bids for a new five-year ferry contract were advertised last year by the Minister for Rural and Community Development.
O’Malley brought High Court proceedings claiming the Minister infringed European Union procurement regulations in the way in which the tenders were evaluated.
It was claimed there was a failure to give reasons for its decision and to comply with requirements of non-discrimination, transparency, equal treatment and proportionality.
It was also claimed that the awarding of the contract to the rival firm will cause the O’Malley company significant harm. The Inishturk to Roonagh pier accounts for some 60 per cent of his company’s revenue and may result in “significant redundancies” among O’Malley’s nine employees, it was claimed.
The Minister opposed the challenge.
The current contract is due to expire on June 7th and, due to the urgency of the matter, the case was admitted last month to the fast-track Commercial Court. It was due to be heard next week.
On Friday, Mr Justice Denis McDonald was told the matter had been settled and could be struck out.
The judge welcomed the settlement and said he was obliged to the parties for resolving the case.