Fianna Fáil TD for Galway West Eamon Ó Cuív has criticised the Minister for the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht, and the Islands regarding his lack of a plan to develop air services using the two airstrips in Inisbofin and Cleggan for the purpose which they were built for.

Deputy O Cuív said, “The Minister indicated that he intends to sell a small section of the site of the airstrip in Inisbofin to the HSE, with a view to locating a Health Care Centre there.

“While I welcome the progression of the Health Care Centre on Inisbofin and appreciate that it will be developed in such a way as not to prejudice the potential future use of the airstrip, this is incidental to the original purpose for which the airstrip was provided.

“There is no reason that in a new contract to be issued by the Department for air services to the Aran Islands next autumn, Inisbofin would not be included for at least a 3- or 4-day week service. This would include a service linking Connemara Airport to Cleggan and to Bofin, giving the people and visitors to Inisbofin, a choice of leaving from or arriving at either Connemara Airport or Cleggan coming and going to and from the Island.

“As the air company already has the airplanes and all other back-up at Connemara Airport in Inverin, the extra cost to providing a service to Inisbofin would be minimal, as it could all be done within the existing working day of the pilots, etc.

“If we are serious about our Islands, we have to invest in them and to provide 21st century services, otherwise the Islands will decay, and this will cost a lot more to the State than to develop them to their full potential.

“Our Islands provide for Ireland, a shop window that many people associate with the core of our natural heritage, our culture and a way of life that has disappeared in many other places,” concluded Deputy Ó Cuív.