Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs

Ferry Services to Inis Mór: Discussion

2:15 pm

Photo of Marie Louise O'DonnellMarie Louise O'Donnell (Independent) | Oireachtas source

I had the privilege of living on Inis Meáin at one stage. I was learning Irish as a mature student. I loved it. The witnesses are evoking many memories. I lived on the island for a year. I came away as an islander. I think I looked like an islander. It was a long time ago. I thank the witnesses and I am delighted to meet them. I am approaching this issue with a great innocence in one way, but not in another way.

I agree with Deputy Ó Cuív about the inferences that are made when people speak about rural development. We cannot neglect communities outside the M50. It would be absolutely ridiculous for us to do so. I include the islands in what I am saying.

Why is the State not providing a service to Inis Mór? It is providing a service to Inis Meáin. Can somebody tell me why there is no State service to Inis Mór? What is wrong? I do not want a history lesson. Why is there no State service to Inis Mór?

Mr. Kelly has told the committee that the work which started in 2007 cost approximately €48 million. Would we have paid so much money in 2011? We paid €48 million at the height of the Celtic tiger. What was built down there? Are there outstanding hotels, cafés and toilets with world-class bells and whistles in Cill Rónáin? I think the €48 million bill is the county council's business and not that of the islanders.

I agree with much of what Deputy Ó Cuív has said in this regard. That might be extreme, but that is how I feel about it. We have to get on with living on the island, educating people on it, visiting it and using it as part of the great Wild Atlantic Way. The islanders' transport to and from the island is like our rural transport. We had people in here last week to talk about rural communities.

How much money did Galway County Council spend on legal advice? I think that is a good question. When I look at the witnesses, why do I feel that communication between those on the mainland and those on the island has broken down? I suppose it is because I come from a background in communications. I have a strong sense that right seems to be on one side and not on the other. Why do I feel that? Maybe the witnesses will answer that question.

My final question relates to services. Do the islanders have a service now? Maybe they will answer that.


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