Comhdháil Launches Islands Policies
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Minister Éamonn Ó Cuív, the Minister with responsibility for the Islands today praised the Irish Islands Federation for their new policy documents which were, he said, an example of good practice which should be followed by other organisations in that they were easy to read, to the point and full of practical recommendations. The Minister was speaking at the launch of the Federation’s policies this morning in Dublin and undertook to sit down with islanders in the New Year and discuss in detail how their policies, which deal with every aspect of island life from childcare and education, to enterprise and employment and access and transport, can best be implemented.
The Federation’s Manager, Majella Ní Chríochain, said at the launch:
“We want to ensure that there are vibrant and viable communities living on our islands long into the future. We must therefore ensure that islanders have access to services in health, education and childcare, that there is fast, efficient and affordable broadband available on the islands and that islanders have the same opportunities as those on the mainland. Many young islanders now have third level education and in order to ensure that they eventually settle on the islands, there is a need to create employment and enterprise opportunities for them. Others who have expressed an interest in moving to the islands also need housing and a means of making a living. That is why we will be prioritising the implementation of our Housing and Enterprise and Employment policies over the next few years.”
Minister Ó Cuív has increased considerably government investment in the islands over the last ten years, particularly in vital infrastructure and regular and affordable ferry services to the islands. Speaking of the Government’s role in securing the future of the islands, Comhdháil’s Vice-Chair Micheal John Ó Céadagáin from Oileán Chléire in West Cork said:
“Comhdháil, island co-ops and development companies and island communities will all play their role in implementing these policies but we cannot do it alone. Government departments like Health, Education, the Department of the Marine, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Department of the Environment and local county councils have a central role to play. If there was one message I would like to get across today it is that islands are different, that the stretch of water which separates us from the mainland means that there needs to be flexibility and creativity in terms of delivering services and supports. We have set out here a list of practical measures which we believe, when delivered, will secure the future of our island communities for many years to come.”
This is the first time that there has been a comprehensive set of policies outlining how best to ensure that islanders have access to quality services and opportunities and as such has been welcomed by the Minister, opposition spokespersons and islanders alike.