The greatest concern expressed by communities in all of our member islands is the decline in their populations. Halting or indeed reversing that trend requires work on a number of fronts:
- Improvements in access
- Attractive, sustainable employment
- Adequate, appropriate housing
- Support for new, sustainable enterprises
Access to and from the islands has improved dramatically in the last ten years or so and the Department is committed to upgrading piers on many of the islands and providing airstrips on Inishbofin in Galway and Toraigh in Donegal.
In order to make island living attractive, we also must ensure that adequate health, education, waste management, childcare and social services are provided.
Tourism is an important part of the economy on most of the islands and in order to boost tourism to the islands, a new tourism marketing campaign.
The provision of renewable energy is an issue of increasing importance and urgency, particularly for islands. Comhdháil, in partnership with the Department and Sustainable Energy Ireland, is committed to encouraging and supporting the development of renewable energy projects on the islands. We are currently embarking on an interregional project aimed at training islanders both how to conserve and generate renewable energy.
Local – National – European
We are fortunate that the funding programmes we administer and manage enable us to implement policies by supporting, for example, tourism projects or alternative energy projects at a local, national and transnational level. The Interreg project, for which we are the lead partner, is also establishing examples of good practice on small European islands which will inform Comhdháil’s policies.
We are currently prioritising other policy issues to be pursued in the next few years.