9 Oct 2017, 10.06

The Joint Committee on the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands has called for greater support and funding for the Arann Islands.

In a report published today, the Committee has recommended that the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs meet with representatives from na hOileáin Árann to discuss relevant matters with them.

The Committee has also asked that the Government publicly recognise that there is a continuing decline in the population of na nOileán Árann and that there is imperative for immediate interaction to tackle this problem immediately.

Other recommendations are:

•    That the Government recognise that employment opportunities are required on na hOileáin Árann to a far greater extent that in other locations in Ireland and that there is an imperative to increase and protect the number of jobs on na hOileáin Árann through proactive and practical actions – that there is a need to direct these actions towards young people in particular;

•    That Comharchumann Forbartha Árann, Comhlachas na gComharchumann and the other community-based companies receive sufficient funding to operate effectively for the benefit of the community on na hOileáin Árann;

•    That a high standard of transport service to and from na hOileáin Árann be maintained, that this will be a permanent, dependable, safe service and that the service will be available on a regular basis throughout the year;

•    That the travel costs on the local community are based on affordability, so that it will not be a extra disadvantage on the community to live on na hOileáin Árann rather than on the mainland – that is people who travel each day, people who travel to attend to health matters or for educational purposes, people who are unemployed or who do not have full-time employment, and pensioners.

•    That there is an urgent need to update the infrastructure on na nOileán Árann on a continuous basis, including the provision of broadband;

•    That every support is given to the seaweed sector on na hOileáin Árann in a manner that will benefit the local community;

•    That the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport give every assistance to provide extra holiday homes and other accommodation for tourists to visit na hOileáin Árainn;

•    That the Minister for Education and Skills give every assistance to increase the number of people, students of all ages, attending the Summer colleges on na hOileáin Árainn;

•    That the Minister for Education and Skills needs to examine the problem faced by the schools on na hOileáin Árann and on other islands around the country relating to the number of children and the services available to them – that the Minister will be satisfied to provide appropriate assistance  to them and, where appropriate and necessary, to exempt them from certain requirements to ensure that they remain open and to ensure that the next generation on na hOileáin Árann and on the other Gaeltacht islands will remain as native Irish speakers;

•    That the Minister for Education and Skills recognise that schools on na hOileáin Árann and on the other islands incur particular costs and that these extra costs  impinge on everything these schools do – attracting suitable and qualified staff, providing a wide curriculum, providing extras services to students, building and repairing buildings, providing appropriate facilities, etc;

•    That Galway County Council reconsider its housing policy to build houses on the site it has currently selected on Inis Mór and that the Council donate this site to the people of the island as a site for a leisure and sports park and that the Council provide support to develop the site;

•    That a far more intimate and effective link be established between Government Departments and Offices, na hOileáin Árann and the other islands;

•    That effective policies be put in place to protect and strengthen the Irish language and the Irish way of life on na hOileáin Árann and on the other Gaeltacht islands on a continuous basis;

•    That every support be given to Comharchumann Forbartha Árann to facilitate it in making beneficial use of the empty houses beside the Naíolann Árann.

Committee Chair Catherine Connolly: “A delegation from the Oireachtas Coiste na Gaeilge, na Gaeltachta agus na nOileán visited Inis Mór in Contae na Gaillimhe on 8 May 2017 and met with the various organisations which are working for the benefit of the local community on na hOileáin Árann. Following on from that visit, the Committee has produced a report which includes a series of very important recommendations for the future sustainability of the Arann Islands and their inhabitants. These recommendations will greatly benefit na hOileáin Árann and the Gaeltacht in general if they are implemented as soon as possible. We will forward the report to the relevant Ministers and to Galway County Council.”

Read the report here.

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