A new national policy aims to revitalise the population of our islands and create the conditions which will encourage people to live, work and raise families there.
‘Our Living Islands’ is the first such national policy in 27 years. Since the publication of the last one, the population of our offshore islands has dropped by almost 13%.
The new policy relates to 23 inhabited offshore islands from Donegal to Cork with a total population of over 2,700 people.
It follows consultation with islanders and other stakeholders in which challenges and opportunities were highlighted.
A number of key issues were raised including housing, transport, infrastructure and economic development and these are addressed in the ten-year policy and its three-year action plan.
Housing and securing planning permission were identified as particular issues for island communities and it will be announced this morning that changes will be made to the Vacant Property Grant Scheme (Croí Cónaithe) to support the renovations of vacant and derelict island properties.
The maximum grant available for island properties will be 20% higher than the existing Croí Cónaithe limits.
Islanders will be entitled to claim a maximum of €60,000 rather than €50,000 on the mainland for vacant properties, and €84,000 for derelict properties as opposed to €70,000 on the mainland.
This will come into effect on 1 July and will be applied retrospectively to any existing applications from offshore islands.
The islands policy will be launched in full by Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys on Árainn Mhór later this morning.