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End to long-running saga will clear way for new health centre on Inishbofin

The transfer of land on the airstrip of Inishbofin to the Department of Rural and Community Development should be completed by early August to allow a health centre to be built.

In the latest update in the two decades-long saga, Minister Heather Humphreys who is leading the department exclaimed in the Dáil: “My goodness me, it is taking a long time.”

In answer to a query tabled by Galway West TD Catherine Connolly, she revealed that there was now at long last a deadline set for the transfer of the land from Galway County Council to the department.

“Officials from my Department met with the Chief State Solicitor’s office again last week in an effort to finalise the matter. The Chief State Solicitor’s office has set a target of six weeks for the completion of the transfer.” That means it should be done by early August at the latest.

“I understand there were outstanding legal and mapping issues, including a recent request from Uisce Éireann in this regard, but I understand all outstanding matters have now been resolved. I understand the Chief State Solicitor’s office also has engaged recently with solicitors for the  in order to progress the onward transfer of a portion of the site for development of a healthcare centre.”

Part of the airstrip is being used by the Coast Guard as a helipad for medical emergency evacuations. Her department is preparing to issue a request for tender shortly for the provision of permanent lighting and associated works at the helipad.

“It is expected this work will be completed later this year and will be fully operational in time for the winter,” she told the Dáil.

The Independent TD said the CLÁR programme in 2003 identified the need for a health centre on the island.

“That is 21 years ago. Then we had the national primary care island services review in 2017, which again absolutely highlighted the need for a primary care centre. I welcome there is now a six weeks’ target set. That is the first time I have seen a target so I welcome that,” Deputy Connolly stated.

She told the Minister she had received a letter from the HSE saying they intended to appoint a design team by September for the design of the primary care centre.

The current health centre is located in a prefab built as a temporary measure in the 1970s and has long been deemed unfit to service the 160 people who live on the island as well as the hundreds of weekly visitors in high season.

Pictured: The unused airstrip on Inishbofin shortly after it was completed in 2010.

 

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