At a special event today, Saturday 23rd, on Sherkin Island, An Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney T.D., in conjunction with the Government Chief Whip and Minister of State for the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, Seán Kyne T.D. will launch a consultation process aimed at formulating a new national policy for the future development of the islands.
This will be the first cross-Government policy developed for the islands in 23 years and will set a roadmap for the long-term sustainability and development of our offshore communities. The voices and views of islanders will be central to the process. Consultation workshops will be held with island communities over the next three months, allowing local groups and individuals to have a direct input as the policy is developed.
The Government believes that our coastal islands are an integral part of our cultural heritage. Sustainable, vibrant communities are the bedrock of our islands, and the new policy will seek to improve the quality of life of these communities, taking into account the unique context of each island. As part of the policy, a system of reporting and review will be developed to promote accountability.
Launching the consultation process An Tánaiste, Simon Coveney TD, said:
We have seen significant capital investment on the islands in recent years but we need this consultation to ensure communities are supported in a sustainable way into the future. Our islands are a unique asset and there are many different stories of new industry and tourism that have been successfully developed on some islands. We now need to hear from our island communities on what enterprise, education and unique supports they need.
Minister of State Seán Kyne TD, when addressing the event, added:
I am delighted to launch this important consultation process today. The launch marks the first part of a process which will encompass consultation with both island communities and other stakeholders, input from which will feed into a cross-Government national policy for the sustainable development of the islands.
Over the past 20 years, over €100 million has been invested by the state in capital infrastructure on the islands aimed at implementing the recommendations contained in the last Inter-Departmental Islands Committee. This new process presents both Government and island communities with an opportunity to take stock of what has been achieved and to develop plans for a sustainable future over the years ahead.