Efforts to defend island air service


Government and Opposition politicians have pledged their support to a campaign seeking to maintain the Aran Islands air service.

Fine Gael Galway West TDs Seán Kyne and Brian Walsh were among a group of Oireachtas members that attended a Dublin press conference yesterday organised by Aran residents fearful for the future of the 42-year-old service.

The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has indicated it might cut a €1.8 million subsidy to flight operator Aer Arann Islands.

Yesterday islanders claimed the service contributes €7.5 million to the exchequer each year by fostering tourism and creating employment. The group also argued that the service provided a vital healthcare resource that the Aer Corps helicopter would be unable to offer.

Last year 60 medivacs took place using the Aer Arann Islands flights. Inis Mór GP Dr Marion Broderick has said withdrawing the service would put lives at risk.

On Friday Minister of State for the Gaeltacht Dinny McGinley said a decision had not yet been made on the matter. “We have to get the best value for money,” he said.