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A tourism project in Co. Mayo is waiting to hear if a decision will lead it to receiving a licence to tow a small ship into Killala Bay as part of a plan to create an artificial reef, reports the Western People.

The vessel at just 669 tonnes, highlights was centre-stage in 2014 when Irish authorities seized the ship in a major smuggling operation at Drogheda Port.

In the last five years, Killala Bay Ships 2 Reef Ltd has been working to get the MV Shingle towed to Killala Bay, to enable the 42 year-old ship to be sunk and create what would be the first artificial reef in Ireland. The bay is located between counties Mayo and Sligo.

On the River Barrow, last Tuesday, the 60m ship went into the 70m dry dock at New Ross Boatyard. The facility downriver of the Co. Wexford inland port of New Ross, is where the vessel is to be either scrapped or prepared to be towed to Killala Bay for sinking.

To proceed with such an action, the Killala Bay Ship 2 Reef, requires a Maritime Area Consent (MAC) licence from the Maritime Regulatory Authority (MARA). Last November, an application was submitted, but a decision is awaited.

Commenting on the development, Councillor Michael Loftus said they are hopeful about the MAC licence. “The Revenue Commissioners have been working with us to get the best outcome for the Shingle, creating Ireland's first artificial reef that will generate a major attraction and financial benefit in Mayo and Sligo. It would be a major mistake if the Shingle were to be scrapped because of a delay in getting the MAC's licence from MARA. Time is running out.”

It was almost a year ago when the MV Shingle was finally towed out of Dublin Port from where it had been idle for almost a decade, following the vessel's relocation from the Co. Meath port.

Published in Diving