Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Transport to Aran Islands.

8.

asked the Minister for Communications the reason for the long delay in deciding on proposals for passenger and freight transport to the three Aran Islands.

The replacement and/or expansion of the existing services to the Aran Islands has, for several years, been the subject of different studies and consultations embracing identification of the optimum type of vessel or vessels required, their manner of operation and routing, the safety factor, the associated questions of portal and route facilities and costs. The subjects studied also included designation of a suitable operator, should a change be required.

There is no need for me to stress the importance of having the best answers not alone in relation to possible capital and running costs of the service but also to take full account of the vital needs of the people living on the islands.

The Minister is, however, committed to finding an early solution to the problem and he has visited the islands to gain first hand knowledge of the situation in recent times. Reports received this year from both CIE and the island co-operatives are being dealt with as quickly as possible in the hope that definitive proposals can be formulated soon.

Is the Minister of State aware that the much publicised visit of the Minister for Communications to the islands before the local elections gave rise to hope in the islands that this service would be in place already? Will he please give some kind of hope to the people whose hopes were aroused then that the service will be provided with all possible haste?

As the Deputy knows, the Minister's visit was not the only visit at that sensitive time.

Deputy Molloy always visited there.

The Minister has given an indication of his thinking to the comhaireacht there and has had some reaction from them and he is awaiting reaction from CIE. I assure the Deputy that this is being treated as a matter of considerable urgency by the Minister and he will try to get a solution to it as quickly as possible.

Would the Minister of State like to tell the House whether a certain Scandinavian type boat has been selected for the service?

I do not think a definite decision has been made. If there is anything of that nature that I can communicate to the Deputy I will do so. I have not got that type of detail.