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#AranIslands - Inverin near Rossaveal in Connemara has been selected as the mainland terminal for the new Aran Islands air service tender, as Galway Bay FM reports.

The news will be some consolation to islanders angered by last year's award of the tender to Executive Helicopters, who planned to fly from the islands to Carnmore some 50km to the east of the Rossaveal ferry link.

That tender was cancelled at the end of September, with the previous contract with Aer Arann Islands later extended at the 11th hour, though it is set to expire this coming October.

More recently, MEP Marian Harkin visited the European Commission with two locals to voice their concerns over the particulars of any new tender for the vital air connection between the Aran Islands and the mainland.

Galway Bay FM has more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News

#AranIslands - Cost should not be the only consideration when it comes to providing air services to the Aran Islands, according to the European Commission.

That was the outcome from a meeting between Brussels officials and MEP Marian Harkin, who was accompanied to EC headquarters this week by two Aran Islanders to voice their concerns over the tender for flights between the mainland and the Galway Bay islands, as Galway Bay FM reports.

Harkin raised the same issue a month ago in the European Parliament as she called for attention to transport provision for all offshore communities for the EU.

Though the European Commission cannot dictate the terms of such provisions, officials have expressed their expectation that the needs of islands be taken into consideration in any tender contract.

The existing agreement with Aer Arann to provide flights between the islands and Galway was extended at the 11th hour last year after protests against its planned replacement with a helicopter service, but expires this coming October.

Published in Island News

#AranIslands - Transport woes in the Aran Islands was raised by MEP Marian Harkin in the European Parliament this week, according to Galway Bay FM.

Calling for attention to all offshore communities in the EU, Harkin highlighted the need for better air and ferry services to arrest depopulation fears, as Galway Bay FM reports.

Islanders have had something of a reprieve since the Government reached an interim deal four months ago to continue flights to the mainland, though the contract for that service will expire in October.

Moreover, ferry services to the chain's largest island Inis Mór were recently threatened over a dispute regarding a contentious passenger levy for the non-PSO transport route, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Published in Island News

#FerryNews - Aran Island Ferries has confirmed it will continue sailings between Inis Mór and the mainland after meeting with Government officials on Tuesday evening (26 January).

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Galway councillors had been seeking a solution to the Aran Islands transport crisis as the non-PSO ferry route was set to end this Sunday over a long-running passenger levy dispute.

But as Galway Bay FM reports, a deal has now been reached to keep ferries running across Galway Bay between Rossaveal and Kilronan into the spring, which entails a subvention from the Department of the Gaeltacht – though the 80c passenger levy remains an issue.

In other news, Galway County Council has denied claims that it is taking legal action against the Department of the Gaeltacht over an alleged €7 million debt related to harbour works on Inis Mór and Inis Meain.

Galway Bay FM has more on the story HERE.

Published in Ferry

#FerryNews - Inis Mór residents are being left "in limbo" over the imminent loss of the island's ferry service due to a passenger levy dispute.

Sunday 31 January will be the last day of ferry sailings in Galway Bay between the largest of the Aran Islands and the mainland – and Galway councillors have directed their ire at Gaeltacht Minister Joe McHugh for the transport crisis.

As Galway Bay FM reports, Inis Mór is the only one of the Aran Islands that does not have a Public Service Obligation contract in place or its ferry service.

Islanders have been hit by sharp fare increases for a number of years after the ceasing of the State-subsidised contract for ferry services on a route that has seen an overall drop in passenger numbers by one-fifth in just six years.

Galway Bay FM has more on the story HERE.

Published in Ferry

#FishFarm - Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) has withdrawn the application for its controversial fish farm proposal for the Aran Islands ahead of new plans to limit the size of aquaculture projects.

As the Irish Examiner reports, campaigners against the ambitious 500-hectare, 15,000 tonne organic salmon farm for Galway Bay have welcomed the decision by BIM to rethink its development in line with a new national strategic plan that will limit fish farms to under 7,000 tonnes.

BIM's application has been with the Department of the Marine for more than three years, with Marine Minister Simon Coveney saying this past March that he would not be drawn on any timeframe for a decision to approve what would have been the largest such fish farm in Europe.

The application has long faced opposition from local angling and environmental groups, as well as concerns from the EU over its environmental impact.

This past summer controversy arose again as campaigners blasted BIM for spending thousands of euro on PR on the project, that would have seen Ireland attempt to overtake Scotland as a leading producer of organic salmon.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Fishing

#AranIslands - Appointing a senior minister with day-to-day responsibility for the Aran Islands is one proposal in a 12-point plan for the Galway Bay island community being launched on Inis Mór today (Thursday 26 November).

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin is joined by Galway West TD Eamon O’Cuiv to launch the plan, which also includes promises to provide 24/7 health coverage and expand the islands' air service to the mainland, as Galway Bay FM reports.

The latter has been a source of concern for residents who recently faced the replacement of their decades-long airplane service with helicopter flights. Aer Arann is continuing its flights as a new tender for the public service obligation air route continues.

According to the Galway Advertiser, another priority in the plan is proving for primary education services, should Fianna Fáil get into Government in next spring's General Election.

Martin said that the Aran Islands and other offshore communities "are an important part of our heritage and culture and represent a unique way of life. They are important to the nation and also are in many cases, such as the Aran Islands, major international brands."

Published in Island News

#AranIslands - The Irish spoken on two of the Aran Islands may have branched out quite recently from that spoken in Connemara, according to the results of a 25-year study of the language.

Galway Bay FM reports on the intensive work carried out by Californian linguist Dr Séamas Ó Direáin, who began his research in 1990 but took much longer than expected due to the complexities of the area's dialects.

And Dr Ó Direáin told The Irish Times that his study reflects very much on the contemporary status of Irish in Ireland.

He notes that complaints about present-day Irish speakers picking and choosing their dialects are a "pain in the neck" when Inis Oírr residents did the same many decades ago, choosing Munster Irish over their neighbours' Connacht dialect.

One of those neighbours, Inis Mór, is the subject of a glowing profile in the Toronto Sun by travel writer Lance Hornby, who describes "a striking contrast of Emerald Isle green, grey burren boundaries and the dramatic 91-metre cliff drop protecting the Iron Age fort of Dun Aonghasa."

Published in Island News
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#AranIslands - Aer Arann has said it will continue to fly to the Aran Islands despite no agreement being reached in its contract negotiations with Government, according to Galway Bay FM.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, talks got under way earlier this week after the Government's sudden cancellation of its tender for the public service obligation air route to the Galway Bay islands.

Aer Arann's current contract for its plane service between the islands and the Co Galway mainland expired yesterday (Wednesday 30 September) and staff are still on protective notice until an agreement has been reached.

However, the airline confirmed it was offering flights today as a goodwill gesture to Aran Islanders as talks continue. Galway Bay FM has more HERE.

Published in Island News

#AranIslands - Further negotiations are planned after "positive" early discussions between the Government and Aer Arann over the proposed continuation of the Aran Islands plane service, according to RTÉ News.

The airline has put its staff of 40 on protective notice, as The Irish Times also reports, but jobs and flights after tomorrow (Wednesday 30 September) are not guaranteed until an agreement has been reached.

It is understood that the State has asked the airline to extend its Public Service Obligation contract for air services to the Aran Islands, following last Friday's about-face over its tender for the route.

That new contract, had it gone ahead, would have seen plane flights to the Galway Bay islands replaced with a helicopter service that faced opposition from local residents.

Published in Island News
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