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Island Communities

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 1 June 2021

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Ceisteanna (556)

Aengus Ó Snodaigh


556. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Rural and Community Development the work that has been done on an all-Ireland basis to ensure the reliance of County Donegal offshore island communities on their nearest city of Derry to meet their economic and social needs is addressed through regional cross-Border planning; if she or her predecessors raised this issue at the North-South Ministerial Council; and if research has been conducted on the negative impact of partition on the economic life and provision of services to offshore island communities and the way this can be addressed. [29546/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Rural)

My Department recognises that economic sustainability and ready access to services are key to  retaining the next generation of islanders and to overcoming the many issues for island communities which arise from their separation from the mainland.  As the Deputy will be aware, my Department is currently in the process of drafting a new  National Islands Policy. A central objective of the policy is to ensure that sustainable vibrant communities continue to live on the offshore islands, a process which will draw on input from many Departments and national bodies.

Our Rural Future, the new National Rural Development policy covering the period 2021 - 2025 which contains a specific chapter on the islands, also contains a commitment to enhanced cooperation with our counterparts in Northern Ireland on issues related to the economic and social development of rural areas, including the islands.

Last month saw the first meeting of the new North-South Rural Policy Forum at which there was recognition of the many shared challenges and opportunities faced by rural communities in both jurisdictions.

I have also met with Minister Edwin Poots, both bilaterally and at the North-South Ministerial Council in October and November last year. Unfortunately our recent NSMC Sectoral meeting could not take place as scheduled but my hope is that this meeting can be rescheduled as I recognise the importance of these meaningful engagements.