Deputy Joe McHugh has confirmed discussions are underway between the Government and the Health Service Executive (HSE) on extending helicopter services to Tory Island.
The proposal to expand air connectivity to the island was included in a report by Pól Ó Gallchóir, chairman of Foras na Gaeilge and former chief executive of TG4, during his review of transport services at the end of March.
Mr McHugh, Minister for the Irish language, Gaeltacht and the Islands, said: “Currently officials in the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht are in discussions with the Health Service Executive (HSE) about the expansion of the Tory Island helicopter service.
“The focus of talks is on the possibility of expanding the service by three months.
“A proposed expansion of the air operation was one of the key recommendations made by Pól Ó Gallchóir during his review of transport services for Tory.
“The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht wrote to the Health Service Executive (HSE) in recent weeks about expanding the operation and discussions are now ongoing.
“In the last year the Government doubled helicopter services to Tory, with the flight in and out of the island to Falcarragh increasing from one day a fortnight to once a week.
“The service ran from mid-November last year until March 30 and these new discussions involving the Department and the HSE will explore the possibility of extending the services into September and April.”
Mr McHugh added: “The plans for increased air services are just one aspect of the ever improving transport links to Tory.
“We are also committed to designing and constructing a new purpose built ferry to operate from Magheraroarty to Tory over the next couple of years. Consultation work on the project has begun.
“The commitment for the new boat is in the National Development Plan and it will be delivered.”
Pól Ó Gallchóir’s report was submitted to Islanders and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht on Friday March 23.
Costs for the expansion of the air transport services to Tory Island have yet to be finalised.Tags: