Government urged to call in the navy as cover for Inis Mór ferry service

Winter ferry services to the largest Aran Island could be cut from tomorrow in a dispute over passenger fees

An opposition TD has urged the Defence Minister to call in the navy to provide temporary cover for the Inis Mór ferry service.

Winter ferry services to the largest Aran Island could be cut from tomorrow in a dispute over passenger fees.

Galway County Council introduced a bylaw in 2011 requiring ferry services to collect a levy of €5 per journey for island residents - in order to pay for harbour development at Inis Mór. 

Ferry service, Island Ferries lost a legal challenge to the bylaw last December and has notified passengers that unless a compromise is reached, the last regular winter sailing between Ros-a-Mhíl and Inis Mór will take place this evening.

The company said charging the levy during winter makes the service unsustainable and said summer services would resume in March.

Sinn Féin spokesperson for defence, Aengus Ó Snodaigh has today written to Paul Keogh, the Minister of State with Responsibility for Defence to ask that the Irish navy step in to provide a temporary ferry service over the winter months.

“The news today that the Inis Mór ferry is to cease operating is a major blow to islanders who are greatly dependent on the service,” he said.

“It is an essential link to the mainland and is used by people travelling to and from work and school and for many other reasons.

“Life on the island will be greatly affected if an alternative operator is not found quickly and I have written to Minister Keogh in that hope that the Irish Navy might be able to provide temporary cover until a more permanent solution is found.”

Many islands around Ireland have been provided with a government subsidy guaranteeing a ferry service to the mainland - however the subsidy has not been granted to Inis Mór for the past four years.