Fianna Fáil TD for Mayo Dara Calleary has accused the Government of threatening the future of Mayo’s island communities through a lack of investment and development. He made the comments ahead of the termination of the Local Government Development Programme, which will be wound up at the end of the year. The programme provides core funding for essential services on non-Gaeltacht islands, including Inisturk and Clare Island.
Deputy Calleary commented, “The removal of this important scheme will potentially have a devastating impact on the lives of islanders. Vital services for young people, parents, the elderly and the unemployed will be threatened, essential facilities will be put at risk; and community buildings and grounds will fall into disrepair. Life on the islands as we know it will drastically change, and will see islanders effectively being left to fend for themselves.
“The Government’s attitude towards the islands is completely unacceptable. Instead of nurturing and promoting island life, the Government is long fingering the decision on a programme which provides the core funding to projects that keep island life viable. The importance of our islands cannot be underestimated; they offer an additional cultural, heritage and artistic dimension to the country, as well as providing a major tourism boost. It is ironic that despite being an island nation our Government chooses to treat its own islands with disdain.
“The needs of islanders differ greatly to those of people on the mainland, and these communities need to be properly resourced and financed. The Island Development Programme must be re-instated to ensure that front line services can continue to be delivered. Multi annual funding is essential to ensure the viability of islands, and the Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government should be tasked with having responsibility for the roll-out of schemes to maintain services and secure their future.
“There can be no delay in moving on this issue. The current programme is due to end on 31st December and it is imperative that an agreement on its extension or re-instatement is reached before then or the very future of our islands will be put in jeopardy”.