Bid to provide island housing for 'wannabe' islanders

Island communities may be able to provide one answer to Ireland’s lengthy housing lists — they’re investigating ways of helping “wannabe” islanders to create new lives offshore.

Sherkin Island

The West Cork Islands Community Council has established a housing task group to work with affiliated communities and Cork County Council to identify the best way forward to provide housing for people on the housing list who want to live on an island, as well as offering affordable or sheltered housing for the elderly.

“Research is being carried out at the moment to identify houses available on the islands for this,” said Anne Finch, newly elected chairperson of the community council.

“Housing is vital to stop the depopulation of the islands and needs to be addressed if the islands are to have a viable future.”

She said, over the summer months, island life and the islands would be showcased through a series of events including the West Cork Island Run Series, The West Cork Fit-Up Theatre Festival, Heritage Week events, and Taste of West Cork Festival events.

The special calendar of events can be accessed at which brings together all of the events across the islands, over the summer.

“The work we do on our social media channels directs people back to the website, where they can find the additional information they need to plan their island visits,” she said, noting that due to their small populations and geographical remoteness, key infrastructure facilities and services on the islands are more expensive to support.

“The essence of the approach to the West Cork islands is that a co-ordinated approach to island development is best practice,” she said.

The benefits to the community were clear in that, working together, the islands have a far greater chance of accessing local services and amenities.

“Established local development groups with good track records of successful projects working together benefits the community and encourages sharing of information,” said Ms Finch.

“The community council provides an avenue for islanders to interact where inter-island projects can be discussed. The pooling of experience of island life helps all island residents.”

The tourism industry brought an economic boost to the islands and their residents, she said, pointing out that the community council worked to increase an outside awareness of the West Cork islands.

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