Amid the acceleration of the plan to reopen Ireland and ease lockdown restrictions, Galway West TD Eamon Ó Cuív has asked when people will be able to resume travel to and from the islands.
Speaking in the Dáil on Thursday, Deputy Ó Cuív commented that when the announcement of the reconfigured roadmap was made last week, “Amazingly, there was no mention of travel to the islands”.
“Singularly, it is still scheduled for 8 August. Families have members living on the mainland want to go home but who do not have permission to do so.”
Last week the government announced that the roadmap for reopening Ireland has been significantly accelerated, and cut down from five stages to four.
While the final stage was not due to begin until August 10, that date has now been brought forward to July 20.
Overall travel restrictions will be lifted before then, when Phase Three begins on June 29.
The Fianna Fáil TD asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism, and Sport Shane Ross when the islands will open back up.
“To people to go back to their families, to those who own holiday homes on the islands to go to them and to tourists to visit?”
“The islanders want to find out. It is terribly remiss of the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport not to tell us.”
No tourist or other travel has been allowed to the Aran Islands since the end of March, when Island Ferries said they would only be taking essential and emergency services to the islands from the mainland.
Deputy Ó Cuív also expressed concerns that with tourist numbers expected to drop this year, even with an increase in the number of Irish people taking ‘staycations’ at home, it might not be economical for major attractions to open.
“There is a big danger that it will not be economic for Kylemore Abbey, for example, to open this year.”
“The Minister was there recently. It is a big opening. There are massive overheads in running the place.”
“Due to the visitor numbers it will not get this year, it will be very uneconomic to open for small numbers.”