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
I would like to follow up briefly on the question asked by Deputy Ó Cuív. I was going to ask Mr. Kelly the same question. Have there been any discussions with the Department on whether funds might be secured from it to cover the costs? I know that Galway County Council had a huge deficit after the works were done on the pier. Has the Department been approached to see whether moneys could be recouped in the manner suggested by Deputy Ó Cuív? That might be better than the imposition of a levy. I do not know what kind of relationship the Department has with Ms Ní Ghoill and her colleagues in the co-op on the island. It seems from what I can gather from my dealings with the officials in the Department that there is a belief that the Aran Islands are getting too much of the budget for the islands. I can honestly say there is a feeling that they would not be happy to provide the islands with one service a week. It seems to be a battle. When one goes in to talk with the officials, there seems to be a general feeling that the Aran Islands are getting the bulk of the funds. I suggest that consideration should be given to what the Aran Islands are worth to the Irish economy. We should be looking at the money that tourism on the islands brings in, rather than at how much it costs us to keep the service we are discussing. Can Mr. Kelly tell us whether discussions have taken place between the Department and Galway County Council since the issue of the levy arose? As Ms Ní Ghoill could tell us, when the tender for the provision of a ferry service to the islands was advertised, no one else tendered for it. We have to work with what is there. That is the bottom line.