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Displaying items by tag: Island News

#SkelligMichael - A longtime boatman plying the Skellig Michael route for visitors has mounted a High Court challenge against the loss of his landing permits, as The Irish Times reports.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) revoked two permits from Sean Feehan in January following his conviction of offences under the Merchant Shipping Act relating to passengers becoming ill on the boat trip to the iconic Kerry island, as detailed in the Irish Examiner.

But Feehan argues that the OPW's action was unconstitutional, citing his "exemplary" record overall since he began ferrying passengers to Skellig Michael in 1980, and adding that other boatmen found guilty of similar safety offences had not lost their licences.

Business is expected to boom in the coming months for Skelligs boatmen due to the islands' prominent role in the new Star Wars film series – though recent rockfalls at the Unesco World Heritage site mean it's a place for experienced skippers only.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Island News

#SkelligMichael - Repairs to storm damage on Skellig Michael are a priority ahead of the summer tourism season, as RTÉ News reports.

The OPW will oversee repairs to six metres of a wall between the pier and the island's South Steps, much of which has collapsed into the sea following the recent stormy winter.

Until repairs are completed, the Unesco World Heritage site has been declared unsafe for tourist landings – many thousands of which are expected this year after the rocky outcrop featured prominently in December's cinematic blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Filming on Skellig Michael for that and future Star Wars films has also been a source of controversy, with an experienced island guide speaking out recently over the impact of filming on the ancient monastic site and its vulnerable marine wildlife habit.

RTÉ News 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

#StarWars - An experienced heritage guide's concerns have rekindled controversy over the impact of filming for the new Star Wars movies on Skellig Michael.

As The Irish Times reported recently, Claire O’Halloran – an independent contractor for the Office of Public Works (OPW) on the Kerry coastal island over the last 28 years – claims that damage to the Unesco World Heritage site has been downplayed, with many "control failures" going unreported.

She alleges that Arts and Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys granted permission for the film shoot based on incomplete data on the ecology of the island, a sanctuary for important seabird species.

It's also a location that's being hyped by Tourism Ireland on the back of its featuring in the recent blockbuster hit The Force Awakens.

But O'Halloran reserves much of her ire for the Irish Film Board, which comes under the auspices of the minister.

According to the island guide, the board seemed “completely unaware” of the island's sensitivity as it pushed for the shoot with Disney Lucasfilm – with initial plans for the summer of 2014 providing for a crew of 300 and air-drops of additional equipment before any consultation with the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The Irish Times has much more on the story HERE.

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

#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

#StarWars - The recent Star Wars film shoot on Skellig Michael had “no adverse impact on seabirds, their habitats or other biodiversity on the island” despite "incidents" previously reported.

That's according to an assessment compiled by the National Parks and Wildlife Service and National Monuments Service, as The Irish Times reports.

The three days of shooting had “no implication for the outstanding universal value of the World Heritage property and no impact on the national monument” and the report gave assurances that there was no impact on birds, despite being scheduled during breeding season.

“I get worried when they say there was no impact, we can’t see what’s happening to their eggs or young,” said Dr Stephen Newton of Birdwatch Ireland.

Meanwhile, the report confirmed two 'minor' incidents - a crew member catching his jacket on a stone entrance-way that had been previously damaged and repaired, and a spill of "diluted water-based paint" on rocks next to the Wailing Woman.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Office of Public Works last month confirmed repairs by stonemasons at the Unesco World Heritage site after the departure of the Lucasfilm crew, which made a €10,000 donation to Valentia's lifeboat station during the shoot in mid-September.

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

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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#IslandNews - Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney has announced that payments for island farmers under the new Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) Scheme have started issuing.

“I am particularly pleased to see that these payments, worth some €1 million, are issuing on target, particularly given the significance of these payments to individual island farmers," said the minister, who previously announced the designation of offshore islands in May 2015 as Areas of Specific Constraint under the new Areas of Natural Constraints (ANC) Scheme, which replaced the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme.

The scheme is co-funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

“I am delighted that these payments have commenced to issue given the challenges island farmers face on a daily basis, particularly in view of the difficult weather conditions they have encountered during recent months," said Minister Coveney.

"Island farming is difficult in the best of years and the objectives of this aid is to maintain agricultural production in these areas, to provide a boost to the economic activity on the islands, and to deliver environmental benefits such as the preservation of their unique habitats."

The minister confirmed that payments will continue to issue as individual cases are confirmed eligible for payment in the coming weeks.

Published in Island News
Tagged under

#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
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