I thank Deputy Connolly for raising the issue. The interdepartmental committee on island development is the first cross-Government policy developed for the islands in 23 years and will set a roadmap for the long-term sustainability and development of our offshore communities. Our coastal islands are an integral part of our cultural heritage. Island communities need to continue to be sustainable and to realise their potential, and the voices and views of islanders will be central to the process.
At a special event in November on Sherkin Island, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Coveney, in conjunction with the Government Chief Whip and Minister of State, Deputy Seán Kyne, launched a consultation process aimed at formulating a new national policy for the future development of the islands. My Department has supported this initiative by outlining the breadth of policies relevant to the islands, including communications, energy, climate action and fisheries.
One major project is the national broadband plan, which aims to deliver access to high speed broadband to every premises in Ireland, regardless of location, including offshore islands. Provision of advanced communications services and innovation in smart agriculture, e-health, education, tourism and improved supports for emergency services all offer potential island applications. The deployment plan will be finalised shortly and all counties will see premises passed in the first two years.
Approximately 300 broadband connection points in community centres such as schools, library hubs and local sports halls in every county in Ireland, including some on the islands such as, among others, Tory Island, Inishbofin, Inis Oirr, Valentia and Achill, will be connected. There are many opportunities for the islands to become pioneers in initiatives designed to deliver our climate action plan and sustainable development goals.
My Department has active programmes for community participation in areas such as the sustainable energy communities network operated by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, SEAI, waste reduction and recycling and Sound & Vision Ireland, operated by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, BAI. I am sure the Deputy is aware that the Aran Islands were recently recognised for their outstanding achievements in moving to a low waste and clean power approach to island communities.