Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has expressed support for a national sail training vessel for Ireland as part of the Atlantic Youth Trust movement.

The announcement follows the inclusion of the initiative in the ‘A Fresh Start The Stormont House Agreement and Implementation Plan’; The Programme for Government and Capital Investment Plan. 

National sail training vessel seafest 2017

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with Hildegarde Naughton TD; Neil O’Hagan and Owen Moorehead, Atlantic Youth Trust, on board Irish Lights vessel, Granuaile at Seafest 2017, Galway

The new vessel will be modelled on the Spirit of New Zealand which has over 40 years operational experience and is credited with one of the core youth development assets of the country. 

“This is a hugely positive development. The Taoiseach has only been in position a short time and this highlights the need for investment in youth development, cross-border cooperation and investment into the maritime economy,” remarked Neil O’Hagan, Atlantic Youth Trust executive director.

EY (Ernst & Young) has conducted a detailed Business Case and Options Appraisal to ensure the best use of potential public and private investment. This involved shared RoI and NI government costs along with corporate and philanthropic donors.

Irish State investment will slightly exceed the €3.8m insurance payout following the sinking of Asgard II in 2008. Ongoing costs are justified as an investment in youth development; cross-border relations and maritime eduction, O’Hagan outlined.

“Ten days on a tall ship can alter a young person’s path in life. It we can keep one person out of juvenile detention for just one year, the €1,250 investment will save the State €339,733 (the current annual cost of €340,983 per youth in Oberstown),” he said.