As the Deputy is aware, my Department has developed two airstrips at Cleggan and on Inishbofin in Co Galway. These airstrips are not open at present or licensed for use by the Irish Aviation Authority and the landing of aircraft on the airstrips is strictly prohibited.
My Department took a decision recently to dispose of both airstrips. This decision was made in view of the economic downturn, the ongoing cost of maintaining the airstrips and the unlikelihood that my Department will, at any time in the near future, have the resources to provide financial support to an air service between the island and the mainland. My Department is currently assessing the disposal options that are available to it and a decision in this regard will be announced in due course. It is anticipated that the disposal of these assets will be on the basis of a public procurement process.
I can confirm that my Department has received enquiries from various parties regarding the future use of the facilities, including from the Irish Coast Guard. It is my understanding that the Irish Coast Guard has made use of the island airstrip for daytime emergency medical evacuations. Night-time evacuations are not possible as there are no landing lights on either airstrip. My Department has indicated to the Irish Coast Guard that it will examine any proposals that it may have in this regard. However, considering all the circumstances, I do not foresee any possibility of my Department coordinating the use of the airstrips for multiple uses, including the landing of private aeroplanes.