The new contract awarding air services between the Aran Islands and the mainland is welcome but when the new contracts come up next year, the Government must listen to Islanders and not “make a dog’s dinner of the tender process”.
This is the view of Independent Galway West TD Noel Grealish, who welcomed the recent signing of a new one year contract between the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaelthact and Aer Arann, valued at €1.6 million, which ensures air services between the Aran Islands and Connemara from this month until September 30.
However the Carnmore based TD said that once that contract is up, and a new four year contract is discussed in 2016, “the people of the Aran Islands be given a say in who should provide an air service”, and that the Department of Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht “get it right”.
“The Government made a dog’s dinner of the tender process and tried to impose a helicopter service that practically no-one wanted,” said Dep Grealish. “Next time — and this should involve giving the people who use the service throughout the year, the residents of the Aran Islands, a say in what they consider to be the most suitable option.”
The new contract has also been welcomed by Fine Gael Galway West TD Seán Kyne. “The aeroplane service to and from Connemara has been established for decades and represents the wishes of the vast majority of the people of Aran,” he said. “The service is vital for the communities on the Islands, and also the hugely important tourism sector. The length of this contract gives sufficient time to hold a new tender process which I expect will take into account the importance of the air link with Connemara.”