The significance and importance of the islands to our culture and our language has long been recognised by the Government and sustaining and supporting the vibrant communities on our islands is a key objective of the Department of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht.
Each year we invest in essential services such as passenger and cargo transport and infrastructure to support island communities. However, the challenges facing the islands vary and include issues such as healthcare, housing, education, employment, communications, among others. It is clear that meeting these challenges and supporting island communities involves more than one government department.
Following consultation with local island communities, island representative organisations and public representatives, I have sought Government approval to establish an Interdepartmental Committee for Island Development which will work to develop a cross-Government Islands’ policy. This will be the first such whole-of-government, co-ordinated policy for our island communities in almost 25 years.
I have written to Government ministers seeking nominations to the Committee which will hold its first meeting in early September.
With policies such as the Action Plans for Jobs and the Action Plan for Rural Development, we have seen the value of co-ordinated plans with specific measures and defined points of responsibility. I believe a Cross-Government Islands’ Policy will emulate the success of these other plans and deliver for our island communities across the country.