Residents of Tory island are to hold another protest in the ongoing dispute over a new ferry for the island.
The 150 or so islanders are up in arms that they are to be provided with a ferry which they claim is not suitable for their trips to the mainland.
by Chris Cannon
Some have suggested that living on the island full-time would not be an option unless they get a boat which was suitable for travelling through the ‘cainéal Tóraigh’ – otherwise known as the Tory channel.
The islanders recently held a protest outside Dail Eireann in a bid to bring the issue to the public’s attention.
The islanders will now bring their efforts to Galway on the 28th of February.
The protest will take place at the Department of Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht offices in Galway and afterwards will move into the city.
The decision to use the Queen of Aran ferry as the island’s new boat will once again be contested.
The 42-year-old boat has been deemed as unfit for sailing by those who plan to regularly use the service.
The boat is due to begin operations on April 1st but repairs have only started.
It was towed by two cargos from Galway to Killybegs on Sunday to be viewed by the marine authority.
Kenneth O’Brien a native of the island described having a capable boat as a complete necessity.
“I spend 6 months a year working in the Middle East. I do one month on, one month off. If the boat can’t get me off the island to make my flight I can’t continue to live in Tory,” he said.
Having a boat which many deem as unsafe would also greatly affect the tourism prospects of the island, he added.
“It would have a detrimental effect for us to be left with that boat. The hotel manager has already had enquiries on whether or not it would be safe to travel in and out of the island over summer. People are thinking about cancelling bookings, this can’t be allowed to happen,” O’Brien said.
“The north west of Ireland is completely forgotten about. In Leo’s (Varadkar) recent development plans for the country, there is no mention of Donegal. Unless you’re from Dublin you get ignored,” O’Brien angrily added.
The worry for the islanders is that unlike the Tor Mór, the Queen of Aran ferry was not built for the swells and storms that can occur on the trip from Tory to main-land.
“The boat wasn’t designed for this area. My wife struggles with the journey on the Tor Mór, so there’s no way she would think of travelling on this boat. The only choice for some people will be to leave the island,” O’Brien admitted.
The people of the island are going to fight for what they believe they merit.
“We spent the last 30/40 years trying to build up the island. It feels like they’re trying to shut us down. We won’t stop until we get what we deserve,” O’Brien concluded.
Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty has spoken out against the notion of Tory island residents having this boat forced upon them in a statement on his party’s website.
“Clearly, this is a very concerning and deeply worrying situation and raises real doubts over the future of Tory island which is a truly unique place and a strong Gaeltacht island community,” he said.
Doherty admitted that failure to give the island a suitable boat could lose the north-west a vital Gaeltacht speaking area.
“I am once again calling on the Government to take urgent action and intervene in this controversy because otherwise there is a real risk over the future of this proud island community,” he added.Tags: