19/10/2010

Rathlin Venue For Cross Border Meeting

There has been a cross-border executive meeting with a difference - offshore in one of Ireland's dwindling number of inhabited islands.

The Stormont Minister for Regional Development Conor Murphy warmly welcomed Minister Pat Carey, the Dáil TD, to Rathlin Island on Saturday.

As Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, Minister Carey has responsibility for off shore islands in the south, of which around 30 are inhabited.

Commenting on island life and meeting Minister Carey on Rathlin, Conor Murphy said: "Islanders live in some of the most beautiful and inspiring parts of Ireland, but they must also deal with the unique challenges of island life. Since coming into office I have been committed to improving island life and the services available to those on Rathlin.

"In July last year I visited Inis Oírr in the Aran Islands off the Galway Coast to see first hand how the islanders there have developed socio-economic activities to sustain their island community, and so I welcome this opportunity to meet with Minister Carey on Rathlin to share with him our local experiences about how government can help island communities to maintain and develop island life," he said.

Minister Murphy added: "The Executive's policy for Rathlin Island seeks to improve the conditions of all people on this island while also protecting its natural and cultural heritage.

"My Department has been in the lead in developing the Action Plan to implement the Executive policy. To achieve success we need to work together with the islanders and other interested parties to help build a vibrant and sustainable community," he said.

During their visit the Ministers had time to discuss the recent Small Ferries project, a unique European INTERREG funded study undertaken to establish the best way to design, build and procure a replacement fleet of small ferries to deliver lifeline ferry services for island and other geographically remote communities off the Irish and Scottish coastlines.

Speaking about this Minister Murphy said: "The Small Ferries Project has demonstrated that there are opportunities for public bodies across these islands to join together to address issues that are common to them all.

"I am now considering the recommendations of the Small Ferries Project report which I received recently," he said.

(BMcC/GK)

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