Statement from Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs
At the meeting I had with representatives from the Aran Islands today, I had an opportunity to listen to their concerns with regard to the air service. I understand their concerns as an island community and the importance of the air service for them. I also understand the difficulties arising from any change to such a service.
I explained that my position from the outset has been to ensure a continued air service to the Aran Islands, with significant financial support from the Government, in line with EU rules in regard to PSO services.
This is why my Department (the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht) requested the Office of Government Procurement to undertake a procurement process, in line with EU and national rules, to enable my Department to agree a contract for the air service for the next 4 years.
As the air service is the subject of an ongoing public procurement process, it would not be appropriate to make any comment on that process, or to say anything that might prejudice it. The legal advice available to my Department is very clear in this regard. This is more relevant than ever now as it appears that one of the tenderers intends to appeal the outcome of the procurement process by way of a judicial review to the High Court.
I will continue to work towards securing an air service to the Aran Islands for the next 4 years, following the completion of the ongoing procurement process.