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  1. ITV Report

IoM Government purchase of £124m sole sea services approved by Tynwald

The Steam Packet's ferries 'Manannan' and 'Ben-my-Chree' Photo: Steam Packet Co. Facebook

The Isle of Man's parliament of Tynwald have approved a proposal to buy the Steam Packet Company for over 124 million pounds.

Yesterday Treasury Minister Alf Cannan MHK gave a speech in the Tynwald chambers to members, outlining why the government should take over the company.

The current user agreement under the Steam Packet's current ownership will not be renewed at the end of tenure in 2026 and instead the IOM Government will be in charge.

However Mr Cannan stated in his speech that day-to-day operations woud be run "at arm’s length', with options for either a partner or other investors to be considered in due course after completion and finances would be restructured to minimise the outlay from Reserves.

Isle of Man Treasury Minister Alf Cannan MHK speaking yesterday in Tynwald Credit: ITV

This is not the [IOM] Government playing at city financiers seeking to make a 'fast buck'. This is a government taking action in the national interest on behalf of the people of this island. This is a government proposing to take action to stabalise the ownership of our sea services for the next 25 years and beyond. This is a government proposing a course of action that should have been taken years ago.

– IOM Treasury Minister Alf Cannan MHK
  • What is the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company?
  • The sole sea services provider for the Isle of Man is the oldest continuously operating passenger shipping company in the world, celebrating its 180th anniversary in 2010.
  • In the 19th century, Manx people felt it was essential they should have their own dedicated service. A meeting was held in Douglas in 1829, from which was formed a committee charged investigating the cost of acquiring a steam packet.
  • Isle of Man Steam Packet Company began when a new vessel, Mona's Isle, built at a cost of £7,250, sailed from Douglas to Liverpool on its very first sailing.
  • Vessels and crews of the company were actively involved in World War One and World War Two.
  • Today, the Ben-my-Chree (launched 1998) and the Manannan (under Steam Packet owenership since 2008) are the two operating ferry services between Heysham Port, Liverpool, Birkenhead, Dublin and Belfast.
'Mona's Isle' pictured on her first arrival into Douglas Credit: Manx National Heritage

The majority of members voted for the proposal, all except Kate Beecroft, who said not enough time had been given for members to fully consider the proposal.

A new strategic sea services agreement will be placed within the next 12 months to replace the existing Linkspan User Agreement.

Minister Cannan spoke passionately in Tynwald about how the people of the Isle of Man would have "a better deal", and "prevent the Company from being used as a commercial vehicle to fuel city bonuses."

He stated how Government ownership would "protect the island's daily needs and supplies, and end uncertainty of ownership."