I have a great respect for those who live on our offshore islands…They are a huge part of our national culture, history and maritime tradition. To maintain island life they deserve support from all those who interact with them, both State and private. Once again, however, the Aran Islanders who live on Inish Mór are, effectively, being held to ransom in a battle between the State, the local authority in Galway and the ferry company which serves the island. Like my phraseology or not, that is the realistic assessment of the situation and I always approach such an analysis from the basis of not alone being balanced, but being fair.
The situation is highlighted in this new edition of THIS ISLAND NATION programme, by Rhoda Twombly, Secretary of Comhdháil Óileán na hÉireann, the Islands Federation.
She is, of course, addressing the situation from the point of view of the islanders when she says: “Inish Mór is facing into another Winter of uncertain ferry service. Island Ferries has stated that they will withdraw their service to the island from the 21st of November until the following 17th of March unless there is agreement between the company, the Government and Galway County Council (GCC) on levy charges at Cill Rónáin harbour. The uncertainty of ferry service has hovered over Inish Mór for the past four years and it really is time to bring a definite resolution to the matter.”
There are, I have learned in my journalistic career, not just two sides to every story, but several, depending upon the number of sides involved, but this dispute over levies in regard to improvements to the harbour at Kilronan and the paying of them as a contribution for better facilities or, on the other hand, the commitment which the State and also, perhaps, through its local authority, should make towards the physical resources of an offshore island, has been going on for far too long. It seems to have become a “hardy annual.”
I have a great respect for those who live on our offshore islands.
I hope the ferry problem to Inish Mór will be resolved.
• Listen to Listen to Rhoda Twombly on THIS ISLAND NATION Podcast below