Dáil Éireann - Volume 488 - 11 March, 1998

Written Answers - Offshore Islands.

18. Mr. D. Carey asked the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands the proposals, if any, she has for each offshore island in terms of access, as committed by the Government; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [6529/98]

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands (Éamon Ó Cuív): The improvement of access to the offshore islands is being actively pursued by my Department. I recently awarded contracts for the provision of scheduled passenger ferry services on a pilot basis between the islands of Inishboffin, Inishturk and Clare Island and the mainland. These services commenced operation in February 1998. My Department also currently subsidises the provision of scheduled ferry services serving the three Aran Islands and Oileán Cléire, County Cork. In addition almost £800,000 was spent in 1997 from my Department's islands development fund on access related projects. It is estimated that up to £4.5 million will have been spent by my Department on improved access to Oileán Thoraigh by the end of 1998 through the provision of major service facilities.

During my visits to the offshore islands the problem of access was raised as one of the most important issues affecting island life which needs to be addressed. At present a programme of works for 1998 is being prepared in consultation with the relevant local authorities which will include works to improve access to the islands. Consideration is also being given to the major access requirements of the islands and a programme to deal with these requirements in the long-term is being prepared.