Islanders off West Cork have been cut adrift by the Government as a junior minister has admitted: “We can’t help you.”
A Fine Gael councillor, responding to Gaeltacht Minister Dinny McGinley’s refusal of help to repair collapsing roads, has suggested the seven islands off West Cork should seek refuge in Co Kerry.
According to Cllr Dermot Sheehan, islands off Kerry have a better chance of funding as they qualify for funding under the EU’s Border-Midlands-West (BMW) regional funding.
Goleen-based Cllr Sheehan said it might be a good idea if Cork County Council’s western division “transferred its allegiance” elsewhere.
In a letter to local councillors, Mr McGinley — who hails from Donegal South-West constituency — said that due to a severe reduction in his department’s funding, he unfortunately was not in a position to help West Cork.
Inhabitants on all seven islands in West Cork are faced with rapidly deteriorating roads.
Mr Sheehan said the county council had spent considerable time, in co-operation with islanders, promoting the islands as tourist destinations.
And islanders, who recently formed their own community council, said one of the main items on their shopping list was the improving and upgrading of roads.
“Our funding has been cut every year since I joined this council in 2007,” said Mr Sheehan. “It’s virtually impossible to maintain both mainland and offshore roads. The islands have a lot to offer the State through tourism.”
Cllr Donal O’Rourke (FF) said the minister’s letter “shows the more peripheral you are the more you’re abandoned”.
“For the past 40 years, EU structural funding came in to assist rural infrastructure but it was diverted to the east coast. This is an absolute disgrace,” he said.
Cllr John O’Sullivan (FG) said as Cork had the only inhabited islands outside the BMW region, the council should write back to Mr McGinley pointing this out “as a great case” for funds.
Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan (FF) said he was concerned, despite all the good work, that the council could not respond to the islanders’ requests and they had to find a way around it.
Labour’s Cllr Brendan Leahy noted: “When councillors visited Sherkin Island two years age, a corner of a road had fallen in. There’s still nothing done about it. There’s no point us telling the islanders we’ll do this and that, and then [we] can’t.”
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