My objective is to ensure that our offshore islands continue to support sustainable and vibrant communities. In this regard, the integration of the islands function into my Department last year will ensure a more integrated and cohesive approach the development of island communities and their economies, as an integral part of rural Ireland.
My Department is currently developing a new Policy for the development of the islands. This policy will address all aspects of island life and will be underpinned by associated Action Plans to achieve specific goals.
As part of the process of developing the new policy, in 2020 my Department began a series of consultation meetings with island communities prior to the outbreak of COVID-19. The consultation process was temporarily suspended during 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, but it recommenced through on-line meetings later last year.
With this phase of the public consultation process drawing to a close, in the past number of weeks my Department reconvened an Inter-Departmental Committee which was established to oversee the development of the policy. My officials have also commenced a series of bilateral meetings on the policy with key stakeholders, including Comhdháil Oileáin na hÉireann, relevant Government Departments and Local Authorities.
The objective is to publish the policy later this year. Once completed, the policy will be a significant milestone for our offshore islands and will include commitments to support a cross-Departmental approach to the future development of the islands.