The south-west Kerry tourist industry fears it will lose millions of pounds because of the closure of Skellig Michael to the public by the Office of Public Works.

Skellig Michael is the larger of the two Skellig Islands off the coast of south west Kerry. A steel gate has been erected, preventing access to the entire 44 acre island. Boatman Des Lavelle is appalled the entire island is off limits for the sake of work in one area.

Michael Lyne is equally worried about the financial implications of the island closure. The loss of 10,000 visitors per year will have a huge financial impact on south west Kerry. He believes £4 million could be lost to the wider area as a direct result of the closure of the Skelligs.

Des Lavelle says the closure will not just affect his livelihood but have a knock-on effect on hotels, bed and breakfasts and petrol stations in Kerry and beyond.

This cannot happen because it means so much to the whole area, it just cannot be allowed to happen.

The Commissioners of Irish lights own the island and have given the Office of Public Works permission to carry out urgent remedial work to the island. As the repair work is slow and hazardous, they have no option but to close the island for the summer season.

Des Lavelle understands the repair work needs to be done but feels a compromise should be reached whereby works can be carried out in a way that the island can remain open for tourism.

An RTÉ News broadcast on 7 May 1986. The reporter is Tom MacSweeney.