Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard has welcomed the completion of the new £2.8m Rathlin ferry.
The new ferry, named The Spirit of Rathlin will operate between Rathlin Island and Ballycastle and will carry both passengers and vehicles.
It will replace the aging MV Canna vessel and operate alongside the MV Rathlin Express, a passenger only ferry.
A new £1million harbour is also being built on Rathlin Island to accommodate the new ferry and is due to be completed shortly.
The Minister said: “I am delighted to announce completion of the new car and passenger ferry for Rathlin Island. This is excellent news for the people of Rathlin and particularly for those who use this essential service to go about their daily business.
“The ‘Spirit of Rathlin’ ferry will ensure that passenger and vehicle services can continue to be provided on this important lifeline route between Rathlin Island and Ballycastle. This new ferry has been designed to modern standards and includes the latest technology for the service it will operate.”
The new ferry includes a modern passenger lounge and an upper passenger deck for use by passengers during good weather. It will be operated under a new ten year contract awarded to Rathlin Island Ferry Limited.
Once the harbour is complete and a passenger certificate has been obtained from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the new Spirit of Rathlin ferry will come into service.
Mr Hazzard added: “The new ferry and future harbour development will be key to ensuring Rathlin’s continued sustainable growth. Investment in both will honour the commitment given in my Department’s recently published Rathlin Island Action Plan to improve the island’s infrastructure and ensure that the community continues to have access to necessary services.”