The report of the Interdepartmental Co-ordinating Committee on Island Development clearly identifies and addresses the long-term issues affecting the communities on our offshore islands. As chairman of the Co-ordinating Committee, Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach, Deputy Carey, has responsibility for co-ordinating the Government's response to the recommendations of the report. The report provides a strategic framework within which the various Departments and agencies involved can reexamine policies relating to the economic and social development of island communities, clarify objectives in relation to the services being provided to these communities and formulate new policies accordingly.
Specific recommendations have been made in the report in relation to the essential services available on islands and the key sectors for island development. The essential services outlined in the report include access, infrastructure, education, health, energy supply and communications. The key sectors identified include agriculture, fishing-aqua-culture, information technology and tourism. The development of access services to offshore islands was identified in the report as the priority issue and the Government allocated an additional £1 million in 1996 specifically for this purpose. Prioritised programmes of work submitted by the local authorities have been assessed by the Interdepartmental Co-ordinating Committee on Island Development and recommendations regarding funding were subsequently made. Deputy Carey recently advised Galway, Donegal and Mayo County Councils of funding for projects submitted in their programmes of work.