An ambitious new ten-year national policy designed to support vibrant and sustainable island communities was launched by Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys this morning.

The policy, entitled Our Living Islands, is the first whole-of-Government Policy for the islands to be published in 27 years.

A scheme to boost the islands’ housing supply through the renovation of derelict and vacant buildings, as well as supports for remote working facilities on every island feature in the policy.

The document also contains a three-year action plan with 80 commitments focusing on improving housing and water infrastructure, access to essential services in health and education, delivering high speed broadband, supporting remote working and further developing outdoor amenities and sustainable tourism.

The policy was developed following an extensive consultation process with island communities and other stakeholders, taking into account their views on the challenges and opportunities associated with living on islands.

Capital funding of €1.9 million across local authorities in Cork, Donegal, Galway, Mayo and Sligo was also approved today, as part of the first tranche of minor capital works on island infrastructure projects around the country.

Among the highlights of the Action Plan are:

  • Additional levels of support through the Government’s Property Refurbishment Grant Scheme Croí Cónaithe as part of a major effort to turn vacant or derelict buildings on islands into long-term homes. Under this measure, the existing grant ceilings will be increased by 20% in recognition of the additional costs involved in construction on offshore islands.
  • Vacant Home Officers will identify vacant and derelict properties on the islands
  • The Government’s forthcoming planning guidelines for rural housing will recognise the unique challenges that island communities face.
  • E-Health Pods will be piloted on offshore islands to give residents and families improved access to health appointments.
  • Supports will be provided to Remote Working Facilities on islands so that people can live and work within their own community.
  • The delivery of high-speed broadband to island-based schools, digital hubs and Broadband Connection Points (BCPs) to ensure a reliable connection to the internet for both education and remote working.
  • Supports for Outdoor Recreation Activities such as cycling and swimming, and expanding the Walks Scheme to more island projects.
  • Working with Partners and Government Agencies to increase job opportunities, including Apprenticeships on islands.
  • Investment in infrastructure such as piers and roads, and the completion of the upgrade of coast guard stations of units servicing islands
  • Support the development of Waste Management Plans for island communities.

Speaking at the policy launch on Arranmore Island, Co Donegal this morning, Minister Humphreys said: “It’s all about improving housing, better access to essential services in health and education, delivering high speed broadband, and further developing our outdoor amenities, which will in turn increase tourism and support sustainable island communities.

“It’s about ensuring our islands have proper infrastructure in terms of water, roads and piers. And it’s about supporting island communities to develop remote working facilities, ensuring people can live and work in their own community.”

The Minister continued: “As a result of delivering this policy, we will see more people living on the islands and more people working on our islands, with good career prospects, regardless of where their employer is headquartered.

“We will see islands contributing to, and benefiting from, the transition to a low-carbon economy and a climate-neutral society. And we will see our Island communities, and especially young people, having an active role in shaping the future for their own islands.”

Our Living Islands can be downloaded in full here

Minor Capital Works Programme 2023 – Tranche 1 approvals

Island Details of works Grant
Donegal Total grant to Donegal County Council €471,622
Árainn Mhór Resurfacing – Ring Road/Screig Link road €292,500
Árainn Mhór Resurfacing – Staca Mór Pier to Leadhb Gharbh €58,500
Árainn Mhór Surface Dressing Works €32,400
Árainn Mhór Playground safety works €16,222
Toraigh Playground safety works / boundary wall €72,000
Sligo Total grant to Sligo County Council €11,700
Coney Island Replacement of ramp to access beach from pier €5,400
Coney Island Replacement of existing pier guards/barriers €6,300
Mayo Total grant to Mayo County Council €207,000
Inishturk Road surfacing and drainage works €180,000
Inishturk Pier improvement Works – main pier €18,000
Inis Bigil Doran’s Point carpark improvement works €9,000
Galway Total grant to Galway County Council €806,474
Árainn (Inis Mór) Resurfacing – L-5200-115 Eoghanacht €298,464
Árainn (Inis Mór) Resurfacing – L-52008-0 Low Road €233,325
Árainn (Inis Mór) Resurfacing – L-5200 Cill Mhuirbhigh / Gort na gCapall €138,175
Árainn (Inis Mór) Resurfacing – L-5200-31 Cill Rónáin €90,610
Árainn (Inis Mór) Works at Cé Chill Mhuirbhigh €35,100
Inis Meáin Coin operated telescopes €6,300
Inis Oírr Railings for Lifeguard Safety & Hut improvements €4,500
Cork Total grant to Cork County Council €399,256
Bere Island Asphalt concrete surfacing and drainage improvement works prior to taking in charge – road adjacent to L8959-0 €122,000
Bere Island Asphalt concrete surfacing – L-49227-0 €94,500
Bere Island Asphalt concrete surfacing and drainage improvement works – L-49227-0 €54,000
Heir Island Installation of pontoon – East Pier €24,005
Sherkin Island Asphalt concrete surfacing – sections of L8202-0 and L4201-0 €46,665
Sherkin Island Asphalt concrete surfacing – sections of L8202-0 and L4201-0 €35,100
Sherkin Island Dock Pier slipway – concrete works / safety railings €22,986
Total Total grant funding approved across 5 counties €1,896,052


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