Ferries and helicopter carry ballot papers to islanders

FERRIES and a helicopter carried ballot papers to the first of 2,600 island residents voting in the general election. Islanders in Donegal South-West and Mayo voted two days ahead of tomorrow’s mainland poll.

Aran Island residents off Galway will vote today and ballot papers will be delivered to islands off Cork on the same day as the mainland poll on Friday.

Just over 950 ballot papers were carried to islands yesterday, 760 of them to Arranmore, Gola, Inishboffin, Inishfree and Tory Island off Donegal and 194 to Mayo constituency islands of Clare Island, Inishbiggle and Inishturk.

An Air Corps helicopter from Baldonnel ferried ballot papers, returning officers and gardaí from an industrial estate in Falcarragh, Co Donegal, to Inishboffin and Tory.

Tory, where there are 138 votes, is led by Ireland’s only official island king Patsy Dan Rodgers.

His criticism that candidates avoided the island during November’s Donegal SW bye-election paid dividends.

“We had three candidates here in this campaign. Pearse Doherty of Sinn Féin, Dinny McGinley of Fine Gael and Brian O’Domhnaill of Fianna Fáil called on doors this time,” he said.

He added: “Sometimes you would wonder what keeps the politicians away from us. You would think Tory is 100 miles out to sea instead of just nine. We can get tourists all the way from Tokyo here but not our politicians.”

Patsy Dan warned that Tory is in danger of becoming deserted in a matter of years if urgent improvements are not introduced.

“We need a new main road across the island, a water scheme and a proper landing pad for a helicopter. And, like the rest of the country, we also need jobs here.”

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