Saturday 26 May 2018

Ross criticised on Island stance

Paul Deering

An immediate derogation on the Department of Transport's ban on visits to Inishmurray Island has been made in the Dáil by Deputy Marc MacSharry.

And, he was deeply critical of the Independent Alliance Minister's handling of the situation.

Deputy MacSharry said: "Having finally managed to secure precious time in the Dáil to raise this vitally important issue after six attempts, it is crystal clear that Minister Shane Ross hasn't the slightest intention of intervening to secure continuing access to Inishmurray by island owners, tourists and even officials from Sligo County Council, the Heritage Council, OPW or Parks & Wild Life.

"Incredibly the Minister was more interested in promoting his candidate for the next local and general election than providing a solution to the current illogical and prohibitive ban on Island access. The record will show that the Minister is totally disinterested in providing a common sense interim solution by way of a temporary derogation on his department's ban. He is simply upholding the ban and kicking it down the road indefinitely.

"The facts are since St Molaise established the monastery on Inishmurray some 1500 years ago people have been safely navigating to and from the Island.

"In modern history with 102 residents at its height people came and went from the island to the mainland even transporting cattle to market without incident. For the last 30 years, experienced and fully insured charter operators have brought people to and from the island but on the back of Minister Ross's Department's action no one can land there now."

"His department officials have taken the heavy handed approach of threatening tour operators and boat owners that Grange Gardaí have been informed and they will prosecute them if they continue with the livelihood and tradition safely in existence for generations.

"In his response to my appeal for derogation Minister Ross cared only to kick the can down the road on Inishmurray and promote Cllr Marie Casserly, an independent Councillor associated with Ross's de facto party. If it was a Garda Station that didn't need to be opened in his own constituency and wasn't a priority for the Gardaí such as Stepaside Minister Ross is all too willing to intervene and direct operations but when it comes to something in the North West no matter its importance Minister Ross is content to sit on his hands such is his regard for our people our tourism and in real terms even his own candidate that he seeks to promote."

Sligo Champion