Marine Survey Office decision banning boats from Innismurray “flawed” says local TD

‘Several skippers from Sligo have tours booked throughout the summer.’

Sligo News File.

A Fine Gael TD has branded as “flawed” a decison made by experts of the Marine Survey Office to ban boats from Inishmurray, an uninhabited 9 square kilometre island situated about 7 kilometres of the Sligo coast.

Inismurray Harbour

According to reports, the Department of Transport has warned boat owners that the Marine Survey Office does not allow plying consent to the island owing to “concerns for safety during embarking and disembarking at the island.”

Tony McLoughlin raised the issue in the Dail where he went on to say that the programme for Government contained specific recommendations to grow tourism nationwide, in particular along the Wild Atlantic Way.

“However, I highlight for the Tánaiste and the Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Brendan Griffin, a situation in County Sligo where a flawed health and safety decision by the Marine Survey Office has led to the closure of Inishmurray to tourists seeking to visit the historical site on the island.

“Several skippers from Sligo have tours booked throughout the summer. It is vitally important, therefore, that access be reinstated. I ask the Minister of State to visit the site at his earliest convenience to see at first hand the problems being experienced.”

Deputy Eamon Scanlon said that “like Deputy McLoughlin” he had been contacted by people about the situation.

He said, “A constituent of mine invested €200,000 in a boat to ferry people to the island. There has never been an accident in the course of tourists visiting the island, nor has anybody been hurt. The landing area on Inishmurray is safer than that on Skellig Michael. It is wrong that people are being prevented from earning a living and that tourists cannot visit the island. Many American tourists whose families used to live on the island visit it while on holidays.”

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin said he was am aware of the issue. “Although the specific matters raised are ones for agencies outside the control of my Department, the ramifications for the tourism industry in the area are pertinent,” he said.

“My Department is looking into the issue to see how it can help to resolve it.” he added that he recognised “the importance of the attraction to the tourism industry in County Sligo.

“I will visit the location as soon as possible to see for myself the situation on the ground and how the issue can be resolved.”