Politicians support Aran 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 Sean Kyne and Brian Walsh were among a group of Oireachtas members that attended a Dublin press conference 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 could 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 the service provides 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”.
Mr Kyne said the islanders, the airline and the Government will have to agree a deal once the Department’s future funding becomes known. But he added: “I would be very hopeful that we can retain it… if you look at the health side of things you can see the service is vital to the future maintenance and sustainability of Aran.”
Other politicians who spoke in favour of maintaining the service included Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, Sentaor David Norris, and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who told the islanders his party was “100 per cent in support of your campaign. We will do everything we can to prevent this service being cut.”
On Friday Minister of State for the Gaeltacht Dinny McGinley said his Department has not yet made a decision on the matter. “We have to get the best value for money,” he said. “The last thing I want to do is withdraw air services but we all have to make contributions.”