It’s a historic day on Arranmore as the island hosts the first public meeting of the Oireachtas on an offshore island, and the first to be broadcast outside Dublin.
Advances in broadband connectivity have allowed today’s meeting to be held off the west coast of Donegal.
The Committee on Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands, chaired by Deputy Denis Naughten, will examine housing and sustaining communities on offshore Islands. It will also discuss eHealth and living longer on islands, as well as Climate neutrality and biodiversity on the islands with Avril Ní Shearcaigh of Comharchumann Fuinnimh Oileáin Árann Teoranta.
Committee meetings have been held outside the Leinster House before, notably as part of a series of debates before Ireland voted on acceptance of the Lisbon Treaty, but advances in telecommunications infrastructure and rural communications have allowed today’s event to take place.
Speaking about this unprecedented event, Deputy Naughten said the Oireachtas business being conducted outside Dublin for the first time shows “the huge potential that broadband and technology have in bringing democracy and the operations of Leinster House to the people right across this country”.
He also noted how “unique and positive it is that a national initiative is for the first time being commenced on an offshore island rather than in another part of the country.”
The Committee’s meeting on Árainn Mhór coincides with Culture Night 2023, when Leinster House opens its doors and allows people see the lesser-seen and storied history of their Parliament building. Along with the sitting on Árainn Mhór, it is an indication that location is secondary to the business of Parliament, the people involved in that process and the importance of seeing democracy in action.