• Improved service for island community with minimum of four daily sailings envisaged
On the 17th June 2021, Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, confirmed that the tender process for the subsidised ferry service to Clare Island is nearing completion.
A preferred bidder has been identified and, pending a required 14 day standstill period, it is expected that an improved service with a minimum of four daily sailings will be in place from July 1st.
Welcoming the development, Minister Humphreys said:
“I am pleased to confirm that a preferred bidder for the Clare Island ferry service has been identified.
“While of course respecting the integrity of the tender process, I can confirm that my expectation is that the Island community’s requirement for a minimum of four contracted daily sailings on a year round basis will be met.
“I am confident that the new contract will therefore provide an improved service that will greatly benefit the island community.”
Minister Humphreys added:
“As per procurement guidelines, there is a required 14 day standstill or cooling-off period that must be observed before contracts can be signed.
“Once that period is complete, we will then be in a position to announce the name of the preferred bidder.
“I am glad that we will be in a position to ensure Clare Island has the kind of ferry service that will serve the needs of local residents and tourists.
“Once the contract has been awarded, officials from my Department will work with the Island representative groups and the preferred bidder to develop a timetable for the daily contracted sailings.
“A monitoring committee will also be established to monitor the service and to ensure that the service is being delivered as set out in the contract, and in keeping with the island community’s requirements.”
Future Development of Clare Island.
Minister Humphreys held a meeting with a delegation from Clare Island this week, during which she reiterated her ongoing support for the future development of the island.
The Government’s new policy for rural development, Our Rural Future, commits to investing in critical infrastructure throughout rural Ireland, including our offshore islands, and includes a commitment to develop a new Islands Policy.
The central objective of the Islands Policy will be to ensure that sustainable vibrant communities continue to live on the offshore islands.
The focus on remote working provides a unique opportunity for people to live and work on our offshore islands.
To this end, a Broadband Connection Point (BCP) has been provided in the Clare Island Community Centre, and has been live since late 2020.
Work is ongoing with the Community Centre, the Local Authority and the HSE to develop a high-spec eHealth solution, for which the Department has provided funding of €35,000. This will be live in the BCP before the end of the year.
A series of other supports are also provided by the Department.
Minister Humphreys recently announced funding of some €139,000 to support refurbishment works on Roonagh Pier as part of the Capital Works Scheme, improving access to the island from the mainland.
The Department also supports the local development group – Clare Island Community Cooperative Society – who have been allocated funding of €101,500 for 2021 to assist them in delivering an ambitious work programme.
A formal announcement will be made regarding the awarding of the ferry contract in the coming weeks once the 14 day cooling off period has ended in keeping with procurement guidelines