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#AranIslands - Inis Mór residents have a guaranteed ferry service for two more weeks pending talks over the operator’s planned withdrawal from the island till spring.

Island Ferries Teo confirmed to Galway Bay FM that services from the Galway mainland to the largest of the Aran Islands would continue till Thursday 1 December, two weeks from today (Thursday 17 November).

That’s two days after Galway county councillors are scheduled to discuss the company’s ongoing dispute over passenger levies on 28 November.

As previously reported in Afloat.ie, the ferry operator intends to suspend its “commercially unsustainable” Inis Mór winter service till mid March next year unless the issue of levies is addressed.

Published in Island News
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#AranIslands - Major repairs to an undersea power cable between Galway and the Aran Islands have been completed more than two months after a fault left residents on Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr without power for several days.

According to Galway Bay FM, repairs to the subsea cable were more complex than anticipated, requiring the use of specially trained divers and a diving pod.

However, grid power has now been restored to the islands, which has been using generators transported days after the fault in early August, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Island News
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#AranIslands - “Policy decisions beyond our control” have been cited by Island Ferries Teo for its suspension of services between the mainland and the largest of the Aran Islands from November till next spring, as Galway Bay FM reports.

The move follows a long-running dispute over a council-imposed passenger levy for the non-PSO ferry route to Inis Mór that’s been subject to sharp fare increases over a number of years.

Earlier this year a deal was reached to extend ferry services to the island that were slated to end in January, after a Supreme Court ruling that forced the company to pay landing charges, according to TheJournal.ie.

However, the company now says it has reached an impasse with the Government and Galway County Council and had been left with no course of action other than to suspend the “commercially unsustainable” winter service.

TheJournal.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News
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#MarineNotice - Repair works are currently ongoing on the Inis Mór–Inis Meáin cable weeks after a fault left the Aran Islands without power for a number of days.

The works, which began last Saturday 10 September and will continue for another week, weather permitting, are being carried out from an offshore platform manoeuvred with the assistance of workboats, as detailed in Marine Notice No 39 of 2016.

The tug ABBE is also operational in the vicinity of the platform during the repairs. Both platform and tug vessel maintain a listening watch on VHF Channels 12 and 16 for the duration of the project.

The platform is displaying day shapes and night lights as required in accordance with the International Regulations for Prevention of Collisions at Sea (COLREGS).

All vessels, particularly those engaged in fishing, are requested to give the area a wide berth and keep a sharp lookout in the relevant areas.

Another recent Marine Notice advises of a programme of maintenance and inspection on the Corrib subsea facilities from this week for the next three week.

Marine Notice No 38 of 2016 says the work will all take place within the 500m Safety Zone and will involve carrying out a programme of maintenance to investigate and repair some of
the subsea facilities as required.

The support vessel Olympic Ares will carry out the maintenance and inspection using a remote operated vehicle or ROV. The vessel will be listening on VHF Channel 16 throughout the project.

Published in Marine Warning

#AranCargoship - The cargsoship that transported generators to restore electricity supply to two of the Aran Islands this week, Afloat has identified as a former US Army landing craft vessel, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The generators were craned off the MV Chateau-Thierry, which among its services, Lasta Mara Teo operates a roll on / roll-off service from Rossaveel, Co. Galway.

As previously reported the subsea cable fault left almost 400 residents of Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr without power for four days, was restored at the beginning of this week. Work, however to repair the subsea cable could take up to four weeks.

The Galway registered twin-screw, Chateau-Thierry operates a Rossaveal-Aran Islands service that is mostly involved in trasnporting large cargoes, maintly trucks, excavators, heavy plant and machinery.

A prime example of moving heavy machinery, were those used in the construction to build the outer harbour of Kilronan (Cill Rónáin) on the main island of Inishmore. This was to improve ferry access to and from the mainland. During construction, vehicles were driven off the Chateau-Thierry, which is equipped with ramps that were lowered onto the beach beside Kilronan Pier.

It was during a visit to Inishmore in June, 2009, that asides observing the busy ferry traffic, trawler Iolair and coaster Stenland were also alongside Kilronan Pier. The former Norwegian vessel that traded as Beth Anja, was then tramping around carrying cargoes along the mid-west coast, between Galway and Westport. It was from the Co. Mayo port was where among the cargoes included building materials loaded for Clare Island.

Also on that Aran occasion, another Norwegian connection was that of the former Hurtigruten coastal cruise cargo-ferry, Midnatsol. The vessel converted to cruiseship, National Geographic Explorer was anchored off Kilronan Harbour. Cruise-goers took to 6,471 tonnes vessel's fleet of zodiacs to reach the island harbour.

As for the works of the new outer pier at Kilronan, this required 77,000 tonnes of large natural stone blocks sourced from Connemara, to protect the breakwater from erosion. The new harbour, twice the area in size of Croke Park, had been voted in 2012 by the public as the Best Engineering Project of the Year. 

Also engaged in the project was Irish Dredging, part of the Dutch owned Boskalis Group, which recently completed removal of spoil from Dublin Port and out to dumping grounds in the bay.

Published in Ports & Shipping

#AranIslands - Electricity supply has been restored to the Aran Islands of Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr four days after a subsea cable fault left almost 400 residents without power.

Galway Bay FM reports that repairs works are ongoing and could take up to four weeks, but affected islanders now have access to generator power since yesterday evening (Monday 8 August) following delays in transporting the necessary equipment with the weekend's severe weather.

Previously a senator had called on the Defence Forces to intervene should the islands' residents have been left without power – and water from their temporarily shuttered treatment plant – for much longer.

Published in Island News
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#AranIslands - A senator has called on the Defence Forces to step in to assist the residents of two Aran Islands who are expected to be without power for several days since an outage on Friday morning (5 August).

According to Galway Bay FM, a fault with undersea cables could be to blame for the loss of electricity on Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr – which has also forced a temporary shutdown of the former's Irish Water treatment plant.

However, the ESB says that with poor weather forecast today (Sunday 7 August), it will be this week at the earliest before a backup power source can be transported to the islands, and many days before repairs are carried out.

Sinn Fein Senator Trevor O’ Clochartaigh said such a long period without electricity would pose significant difficulties for residents in the Galway Bay islands, and asked for the Defence Forces to provide for their basic needs over the coming days.

The outage is yet another setback for Aran Islands residents, who still face uncertainty over the status of their plane service to the mainland, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Island News
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#AranIslands - The Aran Islands air service is still without a mainland airport as the deadline for talks on the €3.6 million contract fast approaches, according to The Irish Times.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Department of the Gaeltacht has been in a stalemate with the owners of Connemara Airport – who presently hold the tender for the Galway Bay islands' air link – over the cost of the Public Service Obligation contract.

Prices offered by Aer Arann Islands, which factor in refurbishment and staffing costs, have become a sticking point with the department.

However, one last effort will be made to reach a deal before the deadline next week, according to Minister of State for the Gaeltacht Seán Kyne.

“We cannot pursue a contract if we don’t have an airport," said Minister Kyne, "and at the moment, we don’t have agreement on those terms.”

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News
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#AranIslands - The Department of the Gaeltacht is in a stand-off with the owners of a Connemara airport that's once again thrown the future of the Aran Islands air service into doubt.

According to Galway Bay FM, the deadline for tenders for the Galway Bay islands' decades-old air link to the mainland had been set to expire at noon yesterday (Friday 3 June).

But it's been extended for another fortnight after the department failed to come to terms with the owners of the airport at Inverin over the cost of the Public Service Obligation contract.

The airport, near the ferry link at Rossaveal, was selected as the mainland terminal for the new air tender two months ago, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Subsequent concerns over the potential for increased fares or the replacement of the aeroplane link with a helicopter service – as per the controversial tender late last year – were not entertained by the department citing the ongoing tender process.

Published in Island News
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#AranIslands - The Minister for the Gaeltacht has backed out of a scheduled meeting with Aran Islands residents over the latest tender for the area's air service, as Galway Bay FM reports.

Locals had been hoping to meet with Minister Joe McHugh to express concerns over potential increased fares for the air route across Galway Bay from the islands to the mainland west of Galway city.

The replacement of the islands' decades-old aeroplane link with a helicopter service, as was mooted in the controversial tender cancelled at the last minute in late 2015, has also not been ruled out.

But the meeting originally set for tomorrow (Thursday 7 April) has been cancelled after departmental officials advised it would be inappropriate while the latest tender is underway.

Just days ago the airport at Inverin in Connemara was selected as the mainland terminal for the new Public Service Obligation air service tender, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Galway Bay FM has more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News
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