'An unfair tax' - TD calls for government to take action on Inis Mór ferry crisis
Galway TD Éamon Ó Cuív has called for the government to take action on the Inis Mór ferry crisis.
The private company, Island Ferries Teoranta, which normally provide a ferry to and from the island has ceased its service, with a dispute over per passenger levies at the heart of the problem.
After talks with the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, it was hoped that a favourable arrangement could be reached. However, this was not the case and the last service until March left the island at 6pm on Wednesday evening.
Fianna Fáil TD Ó Cuív brought this issue before the Dáil this afternoon, calling the levy on islanders an “unfair tax.”
He said: “The actual genesis of this problem arose because both the county council and the department took a view that the islanders would have to pay €0.80 to land on a pier on their own island.
“That is the equivalent to asking somebody with free travel to pay €0.80 in Pearse Station to use the platform. Do you think that’s fair? The genesis of this is in the hands of the government and also in the hands of the County Council who tried to put an unfair tax on islanders.”
Mr Ó Cuív also questioned what actions were taken to solve the problem in recent weeks.
“What I want to know from you is this: when were the navy first contacted about providing an alternative service, because it has been well known for well over a month that there was a threat,” he added.
He also queried whether other providers have been contacted by the government, asking “can you tell me specifically when and how many other operators have been contacted in the past two, three weeks in relation to dealing with a contingency that has now arisen? “
Without any viable ferry service, Ó Cuív said that the islanders should be able to use the air service at an affordable cost of €10 return for adults, €5 return for young people and zero cost for those who have free travel.