Speaking at the Special Committee on Covid-19 Response, Holly Cairns TD, drew attention to the unique challenges faced by island and Gaeltacht communities in recovering from the effects of the Covid pandemic. Holly called for targeted supports for these communities.
“We should commend island communities, such as Bere, Sherkin, Heir and Cape Clear in West Cork, for their response to emergency in pulling together to help each other, and this includes service providers such as local supermarkets, ferries, and healthcare services. The pandemic has brought out the best in these areas, but has also highlighted the inherent vulnerabilities of island living. The pandemic has been a time to reflect and seek to improve how the state and society operate. There are lessons to be learned to help improve quality of life on the islands and to strengthen the forthcoming Islands’ Action Plan.
“Gaeltacht and island communities face additional complications in recovering from the pandemic. Greater attention needs to be given to how our current and future responses to Covid and the recovery can be adapted to support the islands. Not only do we need phased approaches; we need regional measures that acknowledge the different conditions on islands and also in rural Ireland, compared to urban areas. We need targeted support for islands including special VAT rates, a monetary fund for businesses, and more flexibility in existing grants.
Also, this summer due to the restrictions, whole groups of secondary and college students will not not benefit from the immersive experience of Irish in Gaeltachts, such as Cape Clear or Muskerry. We need to look at alternatives to facilities to help them learn Irish naturally through conversation. More initiatives such as TG4’s series ‘Campaí Cúla4’m would be very useful, and could be run in a way that benefits Gealtacht areas and Irish colleges.”
23rd June 2020