Offshore Islands: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

The following motion was moved by Deputy Catherine Connolly on Tuesday, 17 September 2019:
That Dáil Éireann:
notes that:
— offshore islands and their communities are a dynamic resource in a developing Ireland, representing an extraordinary repository of language, culture and heritage and constituting a unique element in the fabric of Irish society;
— offshore islands make special economic, social and cultural contributions to the life of the nation;
— the decline in the population of offshore islands by 155 persons from the Census 2011 figure of 2,889 to the Census 2016 figure of 2,734, representing a 5.4 per cent decline, represents a serious challenge to the future of the islands as viable, vibrant communities;
— the inaction of successive Governments in addressing the need for an offshore islands policy has been accompanied by a decline in population and a decline in the number of Irish speakers, putting their unique cultural and linguistic heritage at risk;
— there has been a reduction in daily use of the Irish language of 11 per cent on the three Aran Islands (Inis Meáin, Inis Mór and Inis Oírr) where the percentage of active daily Irish speakers has fallen from 63 per cent of the population (over three years of age) in 2011 to 57 per cent in 2016;
— the 1996 ‘Report of the Interdepartmental Co-ordinating Committee on Island Development: A strategic framework for developing the offshore islands of Ireland’ was the last published strategy on the islands;
— the 1996 Interdepartmental Co-ordinating Committee on Island Development did not include any offshore island representatives on its steering committee and did not deliver on its ambitious range of recommendations;
— the 1996 Report pledged to begin work ‘immediately’ and to agree a programme of work by early 1996, and since then policies have been adopted on an ad hoc basis, which are entirely insufficient to address the growing need for action;
— there is currently no policy for offshore islands; and
— the Minister of State at the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht announced his intention to seek Government approval to establish an Interdepartmental Committee for Island Development;
further notes that no date has been set for the work to begin and no timeframe for the work to be completed;
recognises:
— that islanders have an unparalleled knowledge of both the problems and the solutions required to ensure a sustainable future and must therefore be the prime movers in drawing up and delivering on future plans;
— the challenges faced by offshore island communities;
— the unique cultural and economic assets of island populations;
— the economic potential offered by sustainable offshore island communities for the country as a whole;
— the work of offshore island cooperatives in providing equitable and sustainable social and economic opportunities and supports; and
— the need for an urgent and comprehensive policy along with an action plan to ensure the future viability of offshore island communities; and
calls on the Government to:
— develop a policy for offshore islands, underpinned by the principles of equity and social partnership between island communities and State agencies;
— outline an action plan and a timeframe for the delivery of each policy objective;
— ensure island representation on the Interdepartmental Committee for Island Development; and
— engage in meaningful consultation with islanders in the formulation of an offshore islands policy and action plan, including in the areas of housing, health, energy, waste management, climate change, education, communication, employment and transport.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:
“notes that:
— offshore islands and their communities are a dynamic resource in a developing Ireland, representing an extraordinary repository of language, culture and heritage and constituting a unique element in the fabric of Irish society;
— offshore islands make special economic, social and cultural contributions to the life of the nation; and
— the decline in the population of offshore islands by 155 persons from the Census 2011 figure of 2,889 to the Census 2016 figure of 2,734, representing a 5.4 per cent decline, represents a serious challenge to the future of the islands as viable, vibrant communities; and
recognises:
— the investment being made by the Government in the language planning process on the Gaeltacht islands;
— the significant investment made by Government in improving access harbour infrastructure since 1996;
— the work that has been done by Comhar Oileán na hÉireann and the individual island communities to date;
— that the island populations are unique cultural assets, and that they face particular challenges;
— that substantial progress has been made in terms of transport supports for the islands, with some 25 subsidised cargo, passenger and air services now in operation, serving islands all along the coast;
— that the Minister of State for the Irish language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands has established an Interdepartmental Committee for the Islands with representatives from the following Departments:
— Justice and Equality;
— Communications, Climate Action and Environment;
— Defence;
— Housing, Planning and Local Government;
— Employment Affairs and Social Protection;
— Business, Enterprise and Innovation;
— Agriculture, Food and the Marine;
— Rural and Community Development;
— Health;
— Education and Skills;
— Transport, Tourism and Sport; and
— Children and Youth Affairs;
— that the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht will be consulting widely with island communities on an island-by-island basis and with Comhdháil Oileáin na hÉireann on the policy being developed;
— that it is envisaged that the Committee, which will be chaired by the Minister of State with responsibility for the Islands, will meet on 24th September, 2019, and will, in consultation with all of the relevant stakeholders, draw up an islands policy, from which an action plan will then be developed and implemented; and
— that the action plan, which will be presented to Cabinet, will comprise specific commitments for implementation by Government agencies, that will be measurable and time bound.
- (Minister of State at the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht)

I must now deal with a postponed division relating to the motion regarding offshore islands. On Tuesday, 17 September, on the question, "That the amendment to the motion be agreed to," a division was claimed. In accordance with Standing Order 70(2), that division must be taken now.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 38; Níl, 79; Staon, 0.

  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Barrett, Seán.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Corcoran Kennedy, Marcella.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • McGrath, Finian.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • Phelan, John Paul.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Stanton, David.

Níl

  • Adams, Gerry.
  • Aylward, Bobby.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Broughan, Thomas P.
  • Browne, James.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Coppinger, Ruth.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Curran, John.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Grealish, Noel.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Healy, Seamus.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Scanlon, Eamon.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Troy, Robert.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Seán Kyne and Tony McLoughlin; Níl, Deputies Catherine Connolly and Thomas Pringle.
Amendment declared lost.
Motion agreed to.