Funding cut reprieve for Mayo’s islands

Scenic Clare Island is an important link on the Wild Atlantic Way. Photo courtesy of the Clare Island Ferry Company.

Scenic Clare Island is an important link on the Wild Atlantic Way. Photo courtesy of the Clare Island Ferry Company.

Mayo’s offshore islands of Inishturk and Clare have won a short reprieve on the planned funding cuts to services on the county’s non-Gaeltacht outposts.

The small communities on nine of Ireland’s non-Gaeltacht islands were rocked last week by news that €600,000 in funding for their development offices from the Department of the Environment, Community, and Local Government was to be cut off at the end of December.

However on Wednesday, Minister of State for Tourism and Transport Michael Ring announced a reprieve.

“It has been confirmed that funding will continue to the end of March 2015,” said Minister Ring. “I am very confident that an appropriate solution will be found to support the continuation of these vital island structures and services.”

Development offices on the islands provide a range of social, economic, and community services.

Minister Ring said he has seen first hand the importance of this work.

“On my recent visit to Clare Island, I saw the great work that was being carried out on the island and how the posts of the community development offices are crucial to the non-Gaeltacht islands,” he stated.

Cora Keating, who lives on Clare Island, which has a population of 160 people, said any funding cuts would be “devastating”.

“It is not just the jobs that this funding supports, although even to lose one job on a small island would be hugely disappointing. We don’t have the same services on the islands that people on the mainland take for granted. These offices are vital.”

She said any cuts to island funding would also be very contradictory in terms of Government policy.

“On the one hand, everyone is delighted to promote the islands as a unique cultural attraction, particularly in terms of tourism and the development of the Wild Atlantic Way. There is a stated commitment to the islands. But, then on the other hand, there is the threat of these cuts and the huge impact they would have.”

She said most initiatives on the island, including voluntary initiatives, are supported and coordinated through the community development office.

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