September 3, 2015

Islanders should not be stonewalled on Aer Arann row

Posted in Irish Independent · 52 comments ·
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There can be few more beautiful places in Ireland than Inis Meáin this morning. I am standing in warm sunlight on the top of Dún Chonchúir, an ancient pre-Christian fort. Like all forts, it was built to be defensive and it was positioned on a slight elevation right in the centre of this flat island so that the inhabitants could look out and see friends and foes alike coming and going in Galway Bay.

 

The fort is made up of tens of thousands of pieces of cut limestone neatly arranged on top of each other. It’s extraordinary to think this was built here 2,000 years ago. Dún Chonchúir was built in exactly the same way as the hundreds of stonewalls on this island which quite apart from dividing up the tiny holdings, offer the only protection from the winter Atlantic gales.

 

Geologically, the island is one giant criss-crossed limestone pavement. It is essentially a bit of the Burren sticking out of the Atlantic. Limestone is a soft rock and it breaks if you hit it hard enough with something harder. The neat stone slabs of the fort and every individual stone wall was made by dropping huge granite boulders, imported from Connemara, on hundreds of different limestone slabs.

Imagine the amount of sheer, back-breaking muscular effort that has gone into making this island habitable? Island life is hard, and anyone who has spent any amount of time on any island will know that living on an island is difficult.

As a tourist it is reasonably easy to romanticise island life. If you doubt this, read Synge’s ‘The Playboy of the Western World’. For example, the top of Dún Chonchúir offers the visitor a freeze frame of Ireland at its best.

From where I am standing, the whole of the Aran Islands, Connemara and the County Clare Coast opens up majestically before me. You should come here to reconfirm to yourself the spectacular isolated beauty of the edge of the Atlantic.

To my left lies Inis Mór, just across the sound and further out across to Connemara, Erris Beg at Roundstone juts up into the azure sky, behind it the corrugated peaks of the Twelve Bens frame the far side of a broad panorama which sweeps rightwards across Galway Bay and around to the Burren and Inis Oírr on my right, and then the Cliffs of Moher in the distance.

But the flipside of this rugged beauty is inaccessibility, remoteness and isolation. If these islands are to survive and thrive they need to be made less remote by being connected with a reliable, trusted transport system, one that the locals can depend on.

Without the preferred all-weather transport links the Aran Islands will become nothing more than an exotic destinations for summer day-trippers – a type of Irish-speaking safari park for the rest of us to have a gawk at every now and then.

Is that what we want?

In short, is the envisaged future more “selfie stick” than “camogie stick”? The move by the Government to replace the 40-year-old Aer Arann daily plane service with a helicopter service is likely to damage the island economy hugely. Not surprisingly, the locals are up in arms. They can’t understand why the service is being replaced. Most of the elderly, who depend on the plane, say they are scared to fly by helicopter. Whether there is any reality to this fear, the point is that is how they feel. They don’t want to fly to Galway Airport – to the east of the city when they were used to flying to Connemara miles to the west of the city, where their links are strongest.

Why not listen to the people? They know best about their own island, the weather, and they know what it is like to be cut off.

When we stand back, we can all appreciate that for the Aran Islanders to thrive, they have to make stuff that can bring “added value” to the locality, using the island’s brand which, ideally, provides all-year round employment.

One extraordinarily successful example of an indigenous business, which exports high quality goods all over the world is Inis Meáin Knitting Company (www.inismeain.ie) In its factory on the island, I saw boxes of jumpers earmarked for luxury shops in Toyko, New York and London.

The company uses the most sophisticated machinery, the most innovative designs, yet its story is one of ancient island tradition and its selling platform is the web. This company is not just a model for Inis Meáin but for all of rural Ireland.

The future for rural Ireland is small and medium-sized locally owned, businesses that make things for export. These businesses can leverage off the brand of Ireland – an image that is reinforced constantly by tourism.

Be they in food, whiskey, crafts or clothing these companies are selling more than a product, they are selling an experience. They are selling Ireland’s story to the buyer. The story is where the value lies. The experience is based on the brand and the brand occupies an emotional place deep in the brains of the buyer. This is the essential alchemy of small exporting businesses. These businesses project a rugged west of Ireland Atlantic experience to the high-end fashion world of Tokyo and New York.

Our tourist experience and our local produce are two sides of the same exporting coin. If we are really smart we should regard tourism as the marketing department of the fashion, food, craft and other local exporting businesses and vice versa.

This is sustainable development, and the Irish language, the music and the culture are all part of the brand. The brand moves potential buyers from “I like that” to “I am like that”. They become not just buyers but part of a tribe, part of a movement, part of the West of Ireland. That is the hard part.

Once you have done that the orders come in over the net. But of course here’s the snag, to get the actual produce out to the market, you need what? – reliable transport of course!

Amazingly, cutting the airplane service leaves the islands without a reliable export corridor, and in so doing may unravel the generations of work it took to build a sustainable business in one of the most beautiful, yet inhospitable places in the country.

The Aran Islands, like many remote places in rural Ireland, are a sensitive eco-system where one decision has far-reaching and often, unseen ramifications.

If only our bureaucrats who make these decisions could see that their rulings have knock-on effects which are impossible to quantify, and irreversible.

Would that be too much to ask?


    • EddieN

      Free food and drink for the week for you in the Aran islands David??

      • DB4545

        Jasus Eddie that’s a bit below the belt. I don’t know why David didn’t get Bono to give him a dig out on this story because I’m told Bono likes to keep things offshore. I just heard that Bono wants to help the plight of the Syrian refugees as if the poor fuc**rs haven’t got enough misery in their lives already.

    • Onda

      The change from planes to helicopters will have a real detrimental and immediate impact on job creation and the sustainable future of the Aran Islands. We have €4.25 million to €5.75 million of investment planned for the Aran Islands from 2015 to 2020. This will create up to 11 (and potentially more) year round full time private sector jobs.

      To put this in perspective this would equate in real terms to creating 11,000 jobs in Dublin. Yes that is correct the same impact as creating 11,000 new jobs in Dublin; that is the equivalent effect this will have on the Aran Islands. It is the biggest economic boost to the local economy in decades.

      Since 2102 we have been working with the Aran Islands on a ten year plan to reduce their energy use and increase their sustainability, 130 homes, 11 commercial businesses and 5 community buildings have received energy efficiency upgrades which according to the SEAI, has reduced the Aran Islands energy demand by 20% saving the Aran communities an estimated €180,000 to €200,000 per annum in imported fossil fuel costs and exported money. This ongoing project won the SEAI – Electric Ireland Ambition Award in 2014.

      As a direct result of the energy project there are two Doctoral and others researchers undertaking valuable research work on the Aran Islands, GMIT, NUI Galway the Tyndall National Institute Cork and others are participating creating strong links with industry and academic institutions, producing new products, data and real constructive practical understandings of how to smoothly transition a community to a sustainable energy future. The Aran Islands is a reduced scale test platform for the Island of Ireland and the research and findings are important.

      There are also 3 other projects planned all are real and progressing or should I say were progressing.

      2. Planned Production, Based on local resources
      For the past three years we have been working in collaboration with Ireland’s leading company in this area to establish a manufacturing process for export on the Aran Islands. It is a sustainable business model based on available indigenous local resources, which we expect to flourish and which can not be relocated. This project is very close to being realised. We estimate that initially the manufacturing will create on Island 3 to 4 year round full time private sector jobs.

      3. Planned Further Product Production
      We further plan that within 12 to 24 months, a second business will be developed using the by-product of the first manufacturing process to produce a second export product unique to the Aran Islands again building on the high quality environment and reputation of the Aran Islands. This business will create at least another on Island 3 to 4 year round full time private sector jobs.

      4. Planned Renewable Energy Production
      It is also planned that as soon as is practically possible, both businesses and the local community will be powered by locally produced renewable energy. This will create at least another on Island 1 to 2 year round full time private sector jobs.

      Both of these businesses will export and prices will be within the price range norms for the products. We also expect that these businesses will create additional spin off jobs, increase tourism and bring further economic and environmental benefits for the local economy. We believe this is an ambitious, well thought out, integrated, realistic and very achievable plan which will totally change the economic future of the Aran Islands. Otherwise we would not be prepared to make the financial and time investments.

      In 2014 over a 7 month period we required a significant number of flights every week. On a Monday morning c. 30 seats, on a Friday evening c. 30 seats this would be in addition to the 30 to 40 mid week, day return and inter island personnel transfer flights. As well as the seats we require a certain amount of daily air cargo supplies, which is necessary as the sea shipping logistics do not facilitate separate transport. In 2014 the cost of our flights was in the region of €65,000 to €70,000 (Excludes boat passengers and cargo shipping). Since 2012, 4 to 5 seasonal local on Island jobs have been created and over Euro 2.6 million has been invested in the Aran Islands. This was and is only possible with the significant cooperation of Aer Arann and its excellent staff and their extensive experience. We believe this just could not have happened with the proposed helicopter service. It is the wrong vehicle, location, schedule and costing for the job.

      We believe that all the projects listed above are in very serious jeopardy and we are very concerned as we cannot see how any of them will be financially or logistically viable without regular scheduled plane flights from Connemara Airport. It is very rare event that the planes are grinded for a whole day. Currently in the event of a plane not flying (usually due to mist which will also prevent a helicopter from flying) and based on the logistic arrangements in place it is possible to make the ferry at Rossaveal.. This fall back option will not be possible from Carnmore as the distance is too far and the journey time too long, this is even without the added difficulty (nightmare) of getting around Galway in rush hour traffic. This is of grave concern as many of our personnel will have travelled from further afield before they get to Galway. Also the additional costs associated with helicopter travel will not permit a regular cost effective schedule or service and would bring a full stop all of the planned projects above.

      It is no secret that the Aran Islands are very exposed and the harsh weather, strong winds and seas which the Aran Islands experience particularly between October and March. Having experienced the skill and competence of the Aer Arann pilots taking off and landing in high winds and very difficult crosswinds, we cannot understand the logic or rational which determined that helicopters are a suitable replacement vehicle for Britten-Norman Islander planes which are specifically designed for exactly this purpose and which have a excellent worldwide safety record. Clearly this decision was made by people who have not flown to or from the Aran Islands during the winter months.

      We really cannot understand the logic of this decision and its detrimental impact on private sector investment and job creation, something which is constantly repeated ad nauseam by Government and commentators etc as the way out for our problems. It is particularly bewildering when a community which is actively trying to work with the private sector to change and secure its future. In any other Country this would be an example of what can be done and supported by all. It would not be Government agencies actively shooting the legs out from under those who are actively trying to do the right thing by developing the local economy, reducing their dependence on supports and fossil fuels, create jobs and make a better sustainable future for themselves their community and their children.

  1. Peter Atkinson

    We are so far up the arse of the USA we may as well give them an Air Force base on the west coast. I’m sure they would throw in a PSO element to this kind gesture. With full ground and air support facilities on site the Arran Islands would never have to worry about commuting with the mainland again. Who knows in time it could become a “Gitmo” like arrangement if the price was right.

  2. The more government is centralized the less it knows about the hinterland and the less responsive its policies to the rural area. Government is centered in the cities where the bulk of the population resides. The rural/urban divide has never been so acute.

    The same problem arises for a small nation governed by Europe from a foreign capital.

    Decentralized governance is the only solution for rural folk and likewise smaller nations in any federation.

    Ireland should leave the European Union and Dublin should disseminate the power to the regions or all place like the Aran Islands will be a form of Zoo for rich city slickers to come and gawk at those cute little islanders in their economic cages where the local lifestyle is supported by welfare cheques from the centralize government and a few tourist coins.

    • coldblow

      Desmond Fennell had a sudden flash of insight 30 years ago (atheistic scientific materialists would doubtless put it down to epilesy). He saw Ireland as becoming a kind of Luxembourg, with a tiny population, including a small wealthy official and political class living off an EU money-drip) and functioning as a playground for the global elite.

  3. Octavio

    I went to Inis Môr this summer. Unfortunately I was a day-tripper and not staying on one of the islands but The Aran Islands and indeed the whole area are both enchanting and amazing.
    I’ve been living in France for 5 years now, aged 35 one of the Pope’s Children who was clever enough not to buy despite the pressure. As my wee lad just started school this Tuesday I reckon I’ll be in France for a lot longer yet.

    Moving away forces you to ponder your nationality and what it means but sadly the more I’m on the outside looking in even at relatively minor (yet illustrative) situations like this, let alone Irish Water, the more you realise that living in ignorance really is bliss. I think what differentiates David so well is that he tries to contextualize Irish Economics and Society as part of the global landscape. So in giving my tuppence worth I’m drawing on my experience of 5 years in France to give context.

    France is a country where, in general, people are so proud of the concepts of origin, authenticity, and ‘terroir’. The problem for French people though is that on the whole, like many other nations in Europe, France is a collection of many different and clearly defined regions. A Frenchman’s first ‘nationality’ is his region, so he identifies with being from say Brittany, Auverne or indeed Algeria significantly more so than being French. In fact being French is more of an anecdote in this narrative.
    In Ireland the sense of nationality is so highly defined and distilled that despite the jackeen:culchie divide an Irishman has a very clear grasp of what it is to be Irish. Case in point being the Dublin Mayo clash – it has an ‘Us vs. Them’ feeling but it’s uniquely Irish in itself. Living abroad amplifies that sentiment even more, and is echoed in the positive reaction you receive when you tell people you’re Irish.

    I would love so dearly to move back to Ireland, to raise my children in Ireland. On the other hand, the more I look back in, the more I reconfirm the validity in my decision to move, despite the obvious drawbacks. I couldn’t live in Ireland, well, not in its’ current state or trajectory. The only way I could live there is if I became ignorant again – I’d need to have an elective lobotomy. I’ve come up with the theory that one needs a certain level of ignorance to live in Ireland of 2015, on the cusp of the Centenary of Rebellion that led to the emergence of the Republic. Bizarrely France as a Republic is a huge misnomer. It’s the country that cut off the king’s head to remove the yoke of hierarchy and entitlement, to give power back to the people, which indeed became the inspiration for other revolutions in the search of independence and fairness for all. Yet it remains a country where movement between social classes is highly limited if indeed highly impermeable beyond middle class by virtue of the ‘Grand école’ old school tie system amongst other mechanisms. They changed very little more than the words Kingdom for Republic.

    Ireland is a fiefdom in its own right, it is not a republic. Following the news and seeing what happens day-in day-out it’s like watching ‘The Office’ when it first came out. You’re not quite sure if you’re watching a fly on the wall documentary and that the people on camera are hamming it up, whether you’re watching a comedy, but actually knowing that even as a caricature it’s not far from reality. You cringe and want to turn it off, yet you cannot take your eyes off it, rendered incredulous but not quite in awe. Herein lies the need for various levels of ignorance and in the various connotations of the word in order to survive in Ireland.

    A) Tabloid/X-Factor ignorant – you are what you eat, and you know what you read. Those who live in the land of sensational headlines have no horizons beyond the next fix of gossip and banter for the lads. Bliss for them is not knowing or caring what happens as long as it’s someone else and when it eventually is them they are too disarmed to do anything about this.
    B) Drunk ignorant – rendered numb through alcohol and or drugs, despite remaining functional in society as is permitted by Irish society, not capable of being able to focus one’s attention
    C) Faithfully ignorant – Faith is a great thing, but blind faith is a dangerous thing. For decades if not centuries, and thankfully less so now, we’ve been on the same moral ground as a significant proportion of Germans in the 1930’s and 40’s – turning a blind eye to the plight of the Jews around them. Let’s face it we all know at least someone on our street or in our family who we now in retrospect was highly likely to have had an unfortunate experience at the hands of some religious order or other. I know I have a few cousins who’ve not made their case known, but are have obviously suffered at the hands of someone malicious, very sad but very true.
    D) Ignorant in denial – I think many people in Ireland choose to turn a blind eye, and keep their head down plough their own furrow, hoping ultimately to avoid becoming a victim of the failing functions of the state. This accounts for many out there in general, an almost silent majority. Many of this cohort have lifted their heads and started to voice their repressed anger in the light of the Irish Water debate, and I’d like to think that they are manifesting in their disgust at how badly the thing is being managed. Sadly though I think many of those marching recently were marching behind a tabloid-esque banner of believing that they shouldn’t have to pay for water, while the rest of civilized Europe, and many Irish individuals and collectives, pay for such a service (I pay 450€ a year). The bigger picture is that the general service delivery model in place is in chronic decay and needs serious action and proper application of resources to rectify and the sooner the better (like an interest only mortgage solution, we’re merely paying off the interest while the capital continues to grow – but sure won’t it be grand).
    E) Privileged Ignorant – These are the people who have the means to not give a hoot about nor be affected by the general injustice that pervades society, and indeed profit from it with the privilege of knowing that they’ll not be held to account for their actions or the negative consequences on others.
    I fall into one or some of these fields of ignorance here in France, but mostly in chosen denial if I’m honest. I’m no angel and neither is France a utopia. I do my bit by promoting Ireland as a holiday destination. Ireland’s a great place to visit and despite my rant, potentially a great place to live, but it could be so much better, with just a little bit of tweaking.

    We Irish don’t do logic, we don’t do practical, and we don’t look after the needy in our country. We don’t have any obvious structure in place to cater for the mentally ill, although I’m glad to see promotion of awareness recently in this matter, but look at the plight of those in any form of state care – be that delinquent youths, retirement homes, or indeed anywhere that could potentially have a visit from HIQA. It’s damn right shameful, yet it’s tolerated, and these are far from isolated incidents. Sorry rant over.

    The individuals’ response to your question David would be No, that would not be too much to ask and should not be too much to ask. To ask for logic and joined up thinking and decisions taken for the greater good should not be too much to ask but the collective response is an emphatic Yes, it is too much to ask of our governance and elected and even non-elected ‘officials’.

    Would it be too much to ask for anything more than apathy from the people, too much to have a nation for the people, all the people?

    • Peter Atkinson

      A bit of a tome Octavio bit I think I get your drift.

      An irishman’s nationality is defined by what GAA jersey he or she wears. Simple as that. Examples of this can be seen from Bondi Beach to Boston. Everything else just rows in behind it. I will say the Leinster and Munster jerseys are a close second these days.

      • Octavio

        Sorry for going into rant territory, maybe I’ve gone native in the nation of complainers that is France ;0)

        It might be that an Irishman is identifiable by the simple fact that he wears a GAA jersey, not which one. But insn’t seeing masses of GAA jerseys anywhere between Bondi or Boston just further evidence of the failure…?

        • Peter Atkinson

          Possibly, but for those who toughed it out here in the last recession and the current one, failure is becoming second nature. Failure of the government to row in behind the biggest growing private sector employer, the SME. Each time you get back up off the ground the feeling of failure is palpable. They can’t wait to stick their hand out for a wedge just when you’re head is above water. They cut off all business life support as soon as humanly possible. Contrast that to the long term supports given to multinationals and yes, failure is nearly a way of life in the Emerald Isle.

          • McCawber

            Enda Kenny is a teacher and he’s not the only teacher in the Dail. There are quite a few of them and they have the perk of retaining their “right” to get their job back if they lose their seat.
            That is a disgrace and it loads the dice in favour of public servants getting elected to the Dail.
            So there is no balance of representation.
            Dail breaks coincide with teacher’s breaks but are longer.
            Ditto the legal system.
            It actually tells how little we need them that they can just take off for months on end and nobody misses them.

      • kitty the hare

        Silly comments! What about our music, our dancing, our language, our sense of fun and humour etc. etc our heritage AND the GAA! ???

        • DB4545

          Well now Kitty. I just checked out the website that David mentioned above to see how efficiently my taxes are being spent in the West. Up to the usual standard I’d say. I can get an authentic linen “pub jacket” for 350 Euro a pop (dry cleaning only). Or I can get a crew neck in “baby alpaca” blue or beige for 260 Euro.

          I don’t know which to choose but it has to be authentic just like the one Peig Sayers wore when she rowed out the currach to catch mackerel in force nine winter gales. I don’t where Peig got her baby alpaca dry cleaned after she gutted the mackerel and put the dinner on but she seemed to have managed.

          Alternatively I can walk into any major retail store in Dublin and buy a cashmere sweater for less than a third of the prices quoted on the site. Someone has created a retail fantasy world or else the taxpayer is being sold a crock of shit again. I’ll let you guess which one of those two scenarios apply. Then again at those prices it might just be cheaper to extend the DART line from Greystones to Inis Meain and get some Cambodian children to knock them out for a tenner each instead.

          I used to think Father Ted and Craggy Island was a work of fiction. “You’ll have another 260 Euro baby alpaca sweater father ahh go on go on go on”.

    • coldblow

      Octavio

      Interesting post but I would take issue with a number of things, including:

      Faithfully ignorant. Atheistic materialism is every bit as much as faith as Christianity, just that it is not as intellectually well founded.

      Finding an equivalence between Ireland of the 30s and 40s and Nazi Germany is absurd, and Historically Ignorant. I’d be interested to hear your arguments.

      Children and others suffer under state care. That is because it is state care. That is what the state does.

      The claim that rejecting the imposition of water charges is ‘tabloidesque’ while the rest of civilized Europe rightly believe that they should pay water charges is also wrong. The water charges are there purely because it is a European directive. By paying for water use (and this has been explained here before) is a stupid idea as it merely leads to people using less and less water while the price rises all the time as they have to recoup the cost. Superficially it seems reasonable but you only have to think about it for a minute to see that it isn’t.

      Tabloid ignorance is also wrong. I have mentioned here before the nice, well spoken lady who was one of the dancers at Slattery’s in Capel St in the good old days when they had sets there and who said one night, quite out of the blue, ‘Isn’t the Irish Times wonderful’. Liberals in thrall to conventional wisdom, especially poorly educated ones, point to the Daily Mail as a font of prejudice and ignorance. My gripe with the tabloids is that in general, and apart from coarseness, they unthinkingly follow the liberal line in social issues. For example the Irish DM was to the fore with the silly story about mass infant graves in Galway (I think). But of course it is not this aspect of the tabloids that attracts exasperated speechlessness.

    • DB4545

      Octavio

      Thanks for that perspective and insight into another Republic in name only. I think David is using emotion rather than logic in an attempt to persuade and as it works for the advertising industry I can see why. Advertisers put brands on sporting products because sport it’s one of the few times a man will show an emotional reaction. Make that link in a positive way and you’ve accessed his wallet without him noticing. The Aran Islands will get an emotional reaction from most Irish people. Flying out of Shannon many years ago I like many emigrants got a lump in my throat as the Islands and coast faded and I wondered like many before me when I’d see home again. I have no doubt many Irish Americans (including investors) get that same emotional reaction seeing the Islands and coast for the first time and reflecting on ancestors in shawls holding a child’s hand and stepping onto a ship bound for Ellis Island. Man (and woman) of Aran is hardwired into our DNA. So much for emotion.

      The logic is that 1300 people on remote Islands are being heavily subsidised by other Irish taxpayers. The subsidy was 1.3 million Euros and is being reduced to approximately 900,000 Euros. How many cases could you make for that level of subsidy to any number of deprived areas in other villages, towns and cities in Ireland? How many disadvantaged kids in Moyross or Coolock or Tuam could you help if that money was re-allocated for education programmes? I’m not seeing disadvantage in the media campaign by Islanders. I’m seeing the well heeled and the well subsidised protecting their vested interests and quite a few well heeled personalities supporting the subsidised link to their holiday home.

      There’s no doubt that the Islands are a valuable part of the Ireland brand.If the Islanders want to make a clear business case for an air link let’s see the real numbers and what other Irish taxpayers get for their buck. If there’s a commercial case for a link to Dublin Airport why not make a proposal if the runway and Islands could handle the traffic? But skip the emotional blackmail because there are plenty of more deserving groups and “an beal bocht” and “peig sayers” has worn thin from over use.

  4. DB4545

    Maybe someone could do a modern “An Beal Bocht” for the Islanders and some of the “personalities” with holiday homes could wail into their pashmina shawls and Prada bags when they have to pay commercial prices for airfares. I’m certain Flann O’Brian would get serious mileage out of it if he was around today.

  5. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/01/europe-banks-tests-idUSL5N11738S20150901

    Why would anyone believe any government announcement when the only truth is that you will be told a lie?

  6. coldblow

    ‘If only our bureaucrats… could see that their rulings have knock-on effects.’

    The bureaucrats in question would include the Gaeltacht arm of DAHG who have an office near Spiddal. It would be fair to say that these have gone native and would be very much in favour of giving as much assistance as possible. (They have drawn up a 20 year, or 15 year, language plan which Flann would surely find of interest.) I suppose the bureaucrats who make the real decisions are thoes in Finance and in Public Expenditure.

    I notice David mentions the village of Roundstone in passing. Mention this place (Cloch na Rón) to anyone in the neighbouring parish of Carna and they always say, ‘Níl tada ann.’

    Ten years ago I reversed my car into a boulder near Carna and took it to the local mechanic who straightened out the exhaust very cheaply. There was a small group of middle aged men gathered there who were happy to let me jump the queue and the conversation was amusing, not least from the mechanic himself. Like similar places the length and breadth of the country the views expressed are a long way from those you get on RTE. (By the way, does anybody recognize the word Wayw? It’s how they say Wow in Donnybrook.) They asked if I had been through Roundstone and all agreed, ‘Níl tada ann.’ And they were right. It reminds of Kenmare.

  7. jakesthebrakes

    The narrative here is that good ol Aer Arann are being shafted by bureaucracy, that some pencil pusher in Dublin has decided to save a few quid by giving the PSO tender to the better value option of a helicopter company – even if they are not properly equipped to do the job.

    Ordinarily, i would lap it up, and think.. ah typical..

    If it were not for the fact that the person who brought this issue to the attention of the national media was the owner of “Aer Arann Islands” (the company who have operated the services for the last 45 years – and who have won the tender for over 15 years). He was given a 5 minute slot on Morning Ireland to complain about not having won the Tender for the PSO (Subsidy for operating a Public Service Obligation route), and how as a result – jobs would be lost.
    At the time, to me, it stood out like a sore thumb as being a strange news story.
    But all the mainstream media are on board now –
    i.e. “Jobs to be lost: A popular Company loses a government tender, locals take to the airwaves to promote the company, and bemoan the decision”

  8. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-09-04/record-94-million-americans-not-labor-force-participation-rate-lowest-1977

    Meanwhile the great recession deapens as the US unemployment rate is manipulated from an actual 23% down to the 5% range by not counting those Americans who no longer receive benefits.

    Islanders together with all rural folk will be better off with local production of food and shelter than many others.

  9. http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-09-04/record-94-million-americans-not-labor-force-participation-rate-lowest-1977

    Meanwhile the great recession deepens as the US unemployment rate is manipulated from an actual 23% down to the 5% range by not counting those Americans who no longer receive benefits.

    Islanders together with all rural folk will be better off with local production of food and shelter than many others. The middle class tourists will have trouble meeting their bills, never mind discretionary income to go and be a tourist and gawk at the natives.

  10. ‘If only our bureaucrats who make these decisions could see that their rulings have knock-on effects which are impossible to quantify, and irreversible.’

    This observation is equally applicable to central banking and the ponzi money system. Except for one thing. Those pulling the strings behind the scenes know exactly what they are doing, unlike the bureaucrat.

    We are being bound hand and foot economically, quite deliberately, until we are subjugated as feudal economic serfs. Then the 99.99% will be the toys of the ruling elite to do with as they please.

  11. http://www.sovereignman.com/trends/no-inflation-friday-the-government-admits-its-own-statistics-are-phony-17417/?inf_contact_key=ec6ddfb1c3f5f49b9ebc6610fe2577804536ec4f141fef9bba403e7648f87d2c

    “You’ll get laughed at in financial circles if you mention the word ‘inflation’ anymore. It’s being completely ignored… even denied.

    They’re pretending like half the problem doesn’t even exist, which is seriously foolish.

    Inflation is a long-term disease. Quarter by quarter the numbers may change. But over the long run it’s like a cancer, slowly eating away at your lifestyle.

    It’s not a question of either/or. It’s not a debate over inflation VS. deflation. It’s only a matter of WHEN we’ll end up with BOTH. And how well you’re prepared for it.

  12. michaelcoughlan

    Hi,

    A local called Tarlach de Blácam seems to have the following opinion;

    He said; “people had been taken aback at the decision and he believed that a helicopter service was simply not viable. “A helicopter service simply won’t work, not with the weather conditions we get here in the winter. What they want is to offer us is a ‘Mickey Mouse’ service and when that is proven not to work, and then pull it completely. It’s obvious they want to kill the service,” he added”

    http://flyinginireland.com/2015/09/how-did-it-come-about-that-aer-arann-islands-lost-the-contract-to-serve-the-aran-islands/

    • michaelcoughlan

      Maybe this is what they really want which is to depopulate the islands entirely;

      http://www.irishexaminer.com/ireland/cutting-air-service-will-depopulate-aran-islands-213576.html

    • michaelcoughlan

      They could consider using something like this and tell the gubuerenment to fuck off;

      http://www.skylifter.eu/

      • It’s back to Coracles, Michael.
        Maybe hovercraft could work. Beach to Beach, and no infrastructure to maintain.

        Back in the 50′s the Social Credit government built a coastal ferry fleet that provided the infrastructure to populate the islands and communities on the South West coast of BC.

        It was subsidized as an annual operation. Mounting costs have caused a cut back in services and rising ferry prices. This in turn is creating similar problems to those debated on the Aran Isles.

        Welcome to the results of an inflation rate that at 2% (touted but in reality much higher) doubles the costs every 36 years. At the realistic 7% inflation costs will double, without compensating deflationary innovation, every 10 years.

        I notice from reading the attachments that all the regulations come from the EU. No wonder more an more regions of Europe are trying to become autonomously independent.

        Could the Aran islanders survive as a separate state governing their own affairs. No taxes, 24 hour casinos, The Biarritz of the Wild Atlantic. A tourist Mecca. Spend your winnings touring the islands to view what life was like in the 18th Century.

        http://www.visitaranislands.com/

        • michaelcoughlan

          Hi,

          Inflation and deflation mean different things to different people as does currency and money.

          For example prices can DROP but costs can RISE. I encourage all including you Tony to understand what deflation means to the nut jobs in Europe;

          It means reducing the size of the population (population deflation) of Europe so that less capital will be needed to pay for communities like this. The capital saved can go to pay the interest on the bonds issued to increase the money supply and prevent the derivatives bubble from deflating.

          Deflating the population on the Aran islands to zero is prima fascia evidence of these covert deflationary initiatives.

          The story you tell Tony of an out of control Keynesian nightmare expansion of the currency supply is your most important contribution in my view I respectfully suggest. The consequences of this are a compliant political class acquiescing and allowing such madness to spill over into the implementation of population reducing agendas like this one.

          Michael.

          • It means reducing the size of the population (population deflation)

            Michael, you are really confusing everyone with this.
            Populations INCREASE in numbers or they do not or they REDUCE in numbers.

            Of course you can inflate my ego or deflate it depending on your comments but it is never applied to describe population growth or reduction.

            Regarding population. It is a fact that nations with advanced economies tend to develop a low population growth rate. On the whole there is little growth in Europe. Canada has 1-1.2% population growth births but it is boosted by immigration .75%.

          • “allowing such madness to spill over into the implementation of population reducing agendas like this one.”

            This fostered by the appeal to the “Greens”.
            Global warming vilifies CO2 a basic building block of all life, while ignoring the pesticides, chemical contaminants, and plastics the emit hormone like substances. All bar CO2 affect fertility and cause other chronic diseases.
            People drinking copious amounts of unnecessary water lace their body with contaminants.

            In the meantime global warming becomes global change and there has been no determinable heat increase since 1998. The inter glacial medieval period was ignored and the graph became the notorious hockey stick graph. Average temperatures were warmer 2200-1800 years ago, 1200-800 years ago and this is long documented.

            https://www.google.ca/search?q=global+temperature+graph+10000+years&espv=2&biw=1242&bih=585&tbm=isch&imgil=SOadANpetBK6qM%253A%253B9GV4Sy2TUOTwWM%253Bhttps%25253A%25252F%25252Fsandcarioca.wordpress.com%25252F2015%25252F09%25252F03%25252Fclima-agw-e-a-logica-do-amendoim%25252F&source=iu&pf=m&fir=SOadANpetBK6qM%253A%252C9GV4Sy2TUOTwWM%252C_&usg=__SJKJ7QZcAVAqLtaWrp-hfeb6nGM%3D&ved=0CCYQyjdqFQoTCPfFucyV4ccCFQIoiAodK4gFKQ&ei=_YrrVbfTDYLQoASrkJbIAg#imgrc=SOadANpetBK6qM%3A&usg=__SJKJ7QZcAVAqLtaWrp-hfeb6nGM%3D

            Suffice it to say, Michael, I agree, that the madness is all around us. One scare mongering lie after another trying to manipulate us into agreeing to more and more control and loss of freedom.

          • “out of control Keynesian nightmare expansion of the currency supply”

            It is a plan way before Keynes. He was a dupe and so are all his followers. The masters of the money system have been with us for centuries. The old and the new testament warn of the money changers. Usury is a sin!!
            Shakespeare warned us too. “Neither a lender nor a borrower be”.

            Never in the history of the world have we seen a situation where one can not run from one suspect currency to another because all are equally affected. Never before have we been so interconnected.

            Best thing the Islanders can do it to set up their own silver based currency. How would you like your change, will that be silver or funny money ma’am.

          • michaelcoughlan

            “It means reducing the size of the population (population deflation)
            Michael, you are really confusing everyone with this.
            Populations INCREASE in numbers or they do not or they REDUCE in number”

            Hi Tony.

            We have had two periods in Ireland’s history in recent centuries of population reduction by the govt. In the 1950′s the govt’s economic policies were so catastrophic that the govt paid the airfare for anyone in Ireland to go to Australia. It was called assisted passage.

            In the 1840′s/50′s the government paid for people to leave Ireland because they wanted to reduce the population to 500k from 8m and convert the failed landlord tenant system to land and farms producing food for British industrial populations.

            The story you tell of too much debt is accurate. Total debt in Europe is 275% the GDP. At 1% interest rates the interest payable on the debt is 2.75% of the underlying GDP. IF the GDP doesn’t grow by 2.75% then the bonds will still be paid but the balance of the 2.75% not secured from the growth in wealth in the economy will be ASSET stripped from the population through property taxes or water charges. This will be done rather than reduce the money supply.

            The water charges/property tax money will go to pay for the bonds because GSUcks et al will not let their derivatives bubble deflate preferring to deflate the European economy and the population deriving their livelihoods from it instead. Soon you will see a move to removing cash and coins altogether from circulation.

            The authorities know incomes will be hit this is why they are levying wealth taxes.

            Unadulterated madness all of it.

          • michaelcoughlan

            Hi Tony,

            The simplest way to explain it is as follows;

            Lets just say you have two balloons one of which (the derivatives bubble) is ten times the size of the other (world GDP). You also have only one hose flowing full tilt with water (GDP expansion rate). At that rate of flow you can inflate the small balloon by 10% in one year or the big balloon by 1% in one year.

            The flow of water equals the growth in GDP. Now lets say you decide to inflate the large balloon by 1% the small balloon (world GDP) cant get any bigger it stays the same. Now lets say that for some reason the flow of water starts to dwindle by half now the big balloon only expands by 0.5% but you want it to expand by 1%. The only way you can do this is to transfer 5% of the water (wealth taxes) in the small balloon (world GDP) to the big one and reduce its size by 5% to keep the big one expanding at 1%.

            As you have pointed out at nauseam the money supply has to keep expanding or the system comes down. Since money is borrowed into existence the taxes have to keep rising correspondingly and that means asset stripping and wealth transfer from citizens to gsucks et al.

            Michael.

          • Thanks Michael, we are on the same page but I like to keep the definitions simple or we are all confused.

            Yes there was deliberate genocide of the Irish by the English as Ireland was both an economic and military threat to England.

            Ireland pop was 8-9 million and UK about 18 million at just before the famine.

            I tried as a kid to explain the famine to my school chums who promptly called me a liar and proceeded to beat up on me. It resulted in my having to learn to fight to defend myself and teach those little ignoramuses a lesson in humility.

            My family walked out of Ireland via Liverpool and walked across half the width of England to find a home in Yorkshire. Irish haters were rampant and attacked and best up any Irish they could isolate. My Grandfather was known for tracking these thugs and dispensing his brand of justice in return.

            I guess I come by my traits honestly. I am third generation born in England and still not assimilated!! :)

            Best Michael, Tony

  13. DB4545

    Michaelcoughlan

    It’s an absolute disgrace according to Eamonn O’Cuiv. The Aran Islands are unique and an attack from “that crowd above in Dublin” is an attack on our cultural heritage. The Aran Islanders deserve nothing less than hourly flights by Gulfstream V Lear jets to every major European hub. A helicopter might be good enough to fly oligarchs into Davos or St. Moritz but the plain people of the West of Ireland deserve better.If it wasn’t for those feckers in Dublin we’d have our own LUAS service into Salthill by now.

    That West Brit Dublin crowd will be trying to take our Gaeltacht grants off us next. Generations of Mna na h’Eireann have fought and died to build factories so we can teach Polish migrants the mother tongue and knit overpriced geansies for the US market. We tried to get Dubs to move down but they have more sense than to move west of Newlands Cross.You can’t put a price on our unique cultural heritage but if you could 500 Euros for a cable knit sweater represents excellent value for money in todays global marketplace according to Sean Og Beag Ni Houlihan.

    Meanwhile TG4 celebrity Grainne Bean on Ti said “it’s a vicious attack” by “that Dublin crowd” on people who have deep cultural roots in these Islands. “I just have a modest holiday home overlooking the Atlantic. I’m told my great great grandfather was cruelly evicted by “that Dublin crowd” and their land Captain Boycott but I managed to get retained planning permission five generations later and I’ve faithfully restored his modest 5000 sq ft. cottage complete with original triple glazing, granite worktops, carrera marble flooring,farrow and ball heritage paint in “An Taisce” approved colours and a jacuzzi”. That crowd above in Dublin haven’t heard the last of this.

  14. E. Kavanagh

    I’m not seeing a whole load of decent facts in this story. Locals afraid to use a helicopter–that argument is a load of old toss. Firstly I don’t believe it; they are happy with an old tiny plane, but afraid of a chopper! Secondly, why should the hard hit taxpayers have to pay an extra subsidy because they prefer the plane.

    The fact that people would prefer a plane ride to Connemara rather than a chopper ride Galway doesn’t make much sense. As there are a far greater range of services available in Galway, that should make it more attractive to just about everyone; except perhaps those currently working for Aer Arann. And I’d imagine it would help with tourism.

    • DB4545

      Begorrah now is it facts your after altogether? I remember the day when the Bull McCabe was mending the dry stone wall to keep the baby alpacas out of his field. Between dem Americans buyin up all the fields and those feckin alpacas eatin every blade of grass a batchelor farmer would barely have the makins for ten pints of plain a night. Ye’ll not see our likes again said Peig as she waded out from the great Blasket in her jimmy choo wellies. The wizened men of Aran carried the curragh aloft fighting off the biting atlantic gales dressed only in their Gant gansies and Donegal tweed jackets. Jasus now we’ll have to get those Polish girls busy knitten some more of those pub jackets. Sure them eye-talians can’t get enough of them for the catwalks of Milan. Who’d want to be buyin Armani or Dolce & Gabbana when our lovely girls can handcraft the finest baby alpaca(dry clean only)crew neck in anthracite grey?

  15. joe hack

    Bernie Sanders wants the Glass–Steagall Act

  16. Onda

    The change from planes to helicopters will have a real detrimental and immediate impact on job creation and the sustainable future of the Aran Islands. We have €4.25 million to €5.75 million of investment planned for the Aran Islands from 2015 to 2020. This will create up to 11 (and potentially more) year round full time private sector jobs.

    To put this in perspective this would equate in real terms to creating 11,000 jobs in Dublin. Yes that is correct the same impact as creating 11,000 new jobs in Dublin; that is the equivalent effect this will have on the Aran Islands. It is the biggest economic boost to the local economy in decades.

    Since 2102 we have been working with the Aran Islands on a ten year plan to reduce their energy use and increase their sustainability, 130 homes, 11 commercial businesses and 5 community buildings have received energy efficiency upgrades which according to the SEAI, has reduced the Aran Islands energy demand by 20% saving the Aran communities an estimated €180,000 to €200,000 per annum in imported fossil fuel costs and exported money. This ongoing project won the SEAI – Electric Ireland Ambition Award in 2014.

    As a direct result of the energy project there are two Doctoral and others researchers undertaking valuable research work on the Aran Islands, GMIT, NUI Galway the Tyndall National Institute Cork and others are participating creating strong links with industry and academic institutions, producing new products, data and real constructive practical understandings of how to smoothly transition a community to a sustainable energy future. The Aran Islands is a reduced scale test platform for the Island of Ireland and the research and findings are important.

    There are also 3 other projects planned all are real and progressing or should I say were progressing.

    2. Planned Production, Based on local resources
    For the past three years we have been working in collaboration with Ireland’s leading company in this area to establish a manufacturing process for export on the Aran Islands. It is a sustainable business model based on available indigenous local resources, which we expect to flourish and which can not be relocated. This project is very close to being realised. We estimate that initially the manufacturing will create on Island 3 to 4 year round full time private sector jobs.

    3. Planned Further Product Production
    We further plan that within 12 to 24 months, a second business will be developed using the by-product of the first manufacturing process to produce a second export product unique to the Aran Islands again building on the high quality environment and reputation of the Aran Islands. This business will create at least another on Island 3 to 4 year round full time private sector jobs.

    4. Planned Renewable Energy Production
    It is also planned that as soon as is practically possible, both businesses and the local community will be powered by locally produced renewable energy. This will create at least another on Island 1 to 2 year round full time private sector jobs.

    Both of these businesses will export and prices will be within the price range norms for the products. We also expect that these businesses will create additional spin off jobs, increase tourism and bring further economic and environmental benefits for the local economy. We believe this is an ambitious, well thought out, integrated, realistic and very achievable plan which will totally change the economic future of the Aran Islands. Otherwise we would not be prepared to make the financial and time investments.

    In 2014 over a 7 month period we required a significant number of flights every week. On a Monday morning c. 30 seats, on a Friday evening c. 30 seats this would be in addition to the 30 to 40 mid week, day return and inter island personnel transfer flights. As well as the seats we require a certain amount of daily air cargo supplies, which is necessary as the sea shipping logistics do not facilitate separate transport. In 2014 the cost of our flights was in the region of €65,000 to €70,000 (Excludes boat passengers and cargo shipping). Since 2012, 4 to 5 seasonal local on Island jobs have been created and over Euro 2.6 million has been invested in the Aran Islands. This was and is only possible with the significant cooperation of Aer Arann and its excellent staff and their extensive experience. We believe this just could not have happened with the proposed helicopter service. It is the wrong vehicle, location, schedule and costing for the job.

    We believe that all the projects listed above are in very serious jeopardy and we are very concerned as we cannot see how any of them will be financially or logistically viable without regular scheduled plane flights from Connemara Airport. It is very rare event that the planes are grinded for a whole day. Currently in the event of a plane not flying (usually due to mist which will also prevent a helicopter from flying) and based on the logistic arrangements in place it is possible to make the ferry at Rossaveal.. This fall back option will not be possible from Carnmore as the distance is too far and the journey time too long, this is even without the added difficulty (nightmare) of getting around Galway in rush hour traffic. This is of grave concern as many of our personnel will have travelled from further afield before they get to Galway. Also the additional costs associated with helicopter travel will not permit a regular cost effective schedule or service and would bring a full stop all of the planned projects above.

    It is no secret that the Aran Islands are very exposed and the harsh weather, strong winds and seas which the Aran Islands experience particularly between October and March. Having experienced the skill and competence of the Aer Arann pilots taking off and landing in high winds and very difficult crosswinds, we cannot understand the logic or rational which determined that helicopters are a suitable replacement vehicle for Britten-Norman Islander planes which are specifically designed for exactly this purpose and which have a excellent worldwide safety record. Clearly this decision was made by people who have not flown to or from the Aran Islands during the winter months.

    We really cannot understand the logic of this decision and its detrimental impact on private sector investment and job creation, something which is constantly repeated ad nauseam by Government and commentators etc as the way out for our problems. It is particularly bewildering when a community which is actively trying to work with the private sector to change and secure its future. In any other Country this would be an example of what can be done and supported by all. It would not be Government agencies actively shooting the legs out from under those who are actively trying to do the right thing by developing the local economy, reducing their dependence on supports and fossil fuels, create jobs and make a better sustainable future for themselves their community and their children.

    • DB4545

      Onda

      I’m saying this in a respectful way. Using your figures why should Irish taxpayers fork out between 380,000 to 520,000 Euros per PERSON to create 11 jobs on an offshore Island? Do you have a goldmine under Inis Meain? What’s the return for the taxpayer on that investment? That amount of money would put 290 kids through a four year degree program in Trinity College. Over half a million Euros per PERSON on job “creation” is a criminal waste of taxpayers resources. You need to get real because that would be an insane use of taxpayers money. I’d suggest if you submitted those numbers as a business proposal in the private sector you’d be asked to take a drug test. We’ve had Freakenomics and Reaganomics. Made it’s time to research Gaeltacht-enomics to find out what’s going on in the West?

      • Onda

        Why do you assume that this is all taxpayers money? It is not, the vast majority is private sector funding. There higher costs associated with doing things on the islands. The return for the taxpayer is by 1. Create jobs – create taxpayers 2. Create opportunity for people to live and work on the Islands. 3. Reduce the export of people / skills and create the conditions for a viable sustainable community. 4. Reinforce and support the local economy. 4. Reduce dependency on supports and the taxpayer. 5. Establish an energy sustainable community. 6. Support self-determination and community initiative and enterprise. 7. Create optimism, belief and hope. Just to name some.

        • That was my thought, Who is “We”.

        • DB4545

          Onda

          Again this is said with respect because of the almost mythical status that the Islands hold in our culture. What ratio is public money and what ratio is private money? I have no difficulty supporting any community that is trying to sustain itself and grow. I’d certainly prefer to support indigenous Irish business than hand over our resources to multinationals or bondholders. We’ve seen the money squandered on e-voting machines and all the other bullshit scams for golden circles paid for by taxpayers. But they have to be real businesses and not some sort of Celtic Mist disneyland subsidised indefinitely. And why not look for an air link to Dublin if a runway and Island infrastructure could take it and it was commercially viable? The Western Isles of Scotland seem to do OK with distilleries and tourism. If Islay was an Independent State it would be as wealthy as Luxembourg from the Whisky industry. Surely that’s a way to support, sustain and grow the local economy? Aran has huge kudos as a brand and the Irish Whiskey industry is in a huge growth phase.

    • E. Kavanagh

      I’m not buying any of your arguments regarding helicopters and weather. Helicopters fly at night; they use them for the North Sea rigs. I would have though that they’d be better to use in misty conditions in conjunction with a GPS system.

      The argument must be about a public subsidy, otherwise you could just pay for the plane service.

      I’m not clear as to why a chopper and multiple ferries can’t do the job of a small plane. It would seem that a chopper coming from Galway and a ferry from Carnmore is a perfect mix. You have the faster vehicle coming the longer distance. This give you more regular and faster contact with the largest city and market around.

      What cargo do you need shipped that can’t be put on a chopper or a ferry?

      I don’t see anything in your plans that can’t be supported by the chopper. In a worst case scenario things may be slowed down; and you haven’t even made a case for that.

      This whole thing seems like smoke and mirrors. You say a bunch of things which everyone agrees are good things to do, and then you say they can’t be achieved without Aer Arann flights. But you don’t offer any evidence for that.

      Maybe you are right, but your points only seem to support the notion that you want public money to go to your buddies in Aer Arann.

  17. Onda

    DB4545

    You are absolutely correct in your comments and they are real businesses well within the capacity of the Island infrastructure. Islay is a good example but it has a different geology and geography and is about 12 ½ times the size of the combined Aran Islands, Gigha is more comparable. Irish whiskey is in an optimistic growth phase but its not the right fit for the islands. The solution is often to found within the problem if the problem is viewed from a different perspective.
    The issue here is the air link and its impact on the Aran Islands. The move to replace the 40-year-old Aer Arann multi flight daily plane service with a twice a day helicopter service from Galway is guaranteed to damage the islands economy and will ensure the Aran Islands descend into, as you have correctly stated, some sort of Celtic Mist disneyland which will have to be subsidised indefinitely or until a time comes when we are no longer prepared to subsidise them.

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