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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 22 November, 2017
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Request for navy to be drafted in to settle Inis Mór ferry dispute

The ferry service is “an essential link to the mainland and is used by people travelling to work and school among other reasons”.

Image: Eamonn Farrell

SINN FÉIN HAVE requested that members of the Irish Navy to be called in to solve a dispute between a private ferry service and residents of the western island of Inis Mór.

Spokesperson for Sinn Féin Aengus Ó Snodaigh has written to the Department for Defence asking that a temporary ferry service run by the Irish Navy be brought in “until a more permanent solution is found”.

Ferry services to Inis Mór stopped for the entirety of winter yesterday evening, and won’t return until 17 March 2017.

As a result, islanders are concerned that the ferry withdrawal could leave them stranded this winter. The only alternative transport available is a plane service, which is much more expensive and less frequent than the cancelled ferry service.

Inis Mór differs from the other Aran Islands as there is only one private ferry service, while other islands have an alternative government-manned route.

Ó Snodaigh says that “life on the island will be greatly affected if an alternative operator is not found quickly” and that the service is “an essential link to the mainland and is used by people travelling to and from work and school and for many other reasons”.

‘Unsustainable’

Speaking on Morning Ireland this morning, a spokesperson for Island Ferries Teoranta said that the company did make a profit last year, but that they made a loss during the winter months, making the service unsustainable.

However, he could not give an exact number of profits they made last year.

Island Ferries has been deadlocked in dispute with Galway Council over levies introduced in 2011 on passengers travelling to and from the island.

In a statement, the ferry service said had sought the abolition of a €5 per passenger charge on islanders who are permanent residents, as a well as a reduction in the current per passenger charges on the ferry (80 cent).

The ferry operator said that it was “most surprising and disappointing” that these proposals had not yet been considered by Galway County Council.

A council meeting will take place later today to try and find a solution to the dispute.

Read: Inis Mór islanders fear being left stranded as last ferry service due to run this evening

Read: Stena ferry finally docks at Fishguard after being stranded at sea overnight

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