Ag labhairt dó tar éis don Roinn Ealaion, Oidhreachta & Gaeltachta a fhógairt gur chaill Aer Árainn an chonradh seirbhíse poiblí chuig trí Oileán Árainn, deir urlabhraí Gaeilge & Gaeltachta Shinn Féin go bhfuil impleachtaí tromchúiseacha ag an gcinneadh .
‘Tá muintir Árainn thar a bheith imníoch faoin gcinneadh seo. Tá go leor ceisteanna acu maidir leis an bpróiséas a bhain leis na tairiscintí agus an mheastóireacht a rinneadh ar na h-iarratais agus caithfidh an tAire Joe McHugh soiléiriú a thabhairt ar sin.
‘Ba chóir go gcuirfí eolas ar fáil láithreach maidir leis na h-iarratais a cuireadh isteach, an córas marcála a bhí i bhfeidhm agus na torthaí a thángthas air. Tá sé deacair a thuiscint cén bhuntáiste breise atá ann do lucht úsáidte na seirbhíse as an tsocrú nua seo, ná cén tairbhe atá ann don cháiniocóra agus ba mhaith liom míniú ón Aire ina leith sin chomh maith.
‘Tuigtear dom gur meastóireacht ar pháipéar amháin a rinneadh ar na h-iarratais. Bheadh sé dochreidte má rinneadh cinneadh chomh cinniúnach leis seo do thodhchaí Oileáin Árainn agus nach ndeachas chun cainte leis na daoine a bhaineann úsáid as an tseirbhís agus na h-iarratais éagsúla dhá mheas.
‘Ba chóir go n-inseofaí cé a bhí ar an bpainéal meastóireachta agus cén taithí a bhí acu maidir le aerseirbhís chuig oileáin a rith. Ar sheas aon duine acu in Árainn le linn an phróiséis no cén mheáchan ar tugadh do na h-aighneachtaí éagsúla a cuireadh chun cinn agus na h-iarratais dhá mheas?
‘Ní mhór a mhíniú chomh maith céard atá i ndán do na h-aerfoirt sna Minna agus ar na h-oileáin agus cé as a bhfuil sé i gceist ag Executive Helicopters an tseirbhís atá molta acu a reáchtáil. Más Aerfort na Gaillimhe é caithfear a chruthú gur féidir a leithéad a dhéanamh ós rud é go bhfuil an t-aerfort sin dúnta don phobal agus próiséas ar siúl le h-úsáid eile ar fad don suíomh a mheas.
‘Tá dhá scór post i mbaol anseo agus seirbhís 45 bliain d’ardchaighdeán tugtha ag Aer Árainn do phobal na n-oileáin. Ní féidir sin ar fad a chaitheamh sna fataí lofa ag an bpointe seo muna bhfuil muid iomlán cinnte go mbeidh seirbhís níos fearr agus níos tairbhí le theacht ina áit agus níl sé soiléir ar chor ar bith gur amhlaidh atá’.
The Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs must clarify how the contract for an air service to the Aran Islands was awarded to Executive Helicopters, according to Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh.
Speaking after the announcement by the Department for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht that Aer Árainn had not retained the PSO contract for an air service to the three Aran Islands, the Sinn Féin spokesperson for the Irish Language and the Gaeltacht says the decision has very serious implications.
‘The people of the Aran Islands are hugely concerned by this decision. They have lots of questions about the selection process and how applications were adjudicated upon and Minister McHugh must clarify these.
‘All information in relation to the tenders that were submitted, the scoring system that was used and the results which were arrived at must be made available for scrutiny. It is difficult to comprehend what improvements for service users can be envisaged on foot of this decision, or what are the expected benefits for the taxpayer and I would like the Minister to explain that to us.
‘I am led to believe that the evaluation was a paper exercise. It beggars belief that a decision with such immense consequences for the future of the island communities might have been taken without even consulting with the very people who use the service as part of the adjudication process.
‘We should be told who was on the evaluation panel and what experience they have in running an air service to offshore islands. Did any of them visit the islands during the process and what weighting was given to the public submissions as the applications were being appraised?
‘He must clarify what the future of the airstrips in Minna and on the Islands is and where do Executive Helicopters intend flying to and from as part of their proposed service? If they intend using Galway Airport we must have clarification as to whether that is possible as that airport is closed to the public at present and a process is in train to appraise other possible uses for the site.
‘There are forty direct jobs at stake here and it would seem incredible that 45 years of continued, high quality service given by Aer Árainn might be jettisoned at this point without ensuring that a more superior and improved service would be replacing it and that certainly is not clear at this stage’.