Achill welcomes a move to remove a boundary dividing the island based on where the Irish language is spoken.
With a population of just over three thousand, Achill Island was once an entirely Irish speaking island. Since 1956, the island has been divided by an imaginary line separating Irish and English speaking areas. The divide relates specifically to access to funding for development in the areas of tourism and agriculture and has until now favoured the Irish speaking section of the island.
Achill islander Terence Dever explains that the divide has meant access to government grant aid for the Irish speaking part of the island while the English speaking part got nothing.
Minister for the Gaeltacht Michael D Higgins has recommended that both Irish and English speaking areas be allowed access to the fund to promote and encourage tourism and agriculture. The minister is recommending that a Gaeltacht cooperative Meitheal Forbartha Na Gaeltachta should assume responsibility for the development of the entire island under the Leader II Programme.
Michael D Higgins says,
I quite honestly thought it a nonsense to be dividing the island.
The development has been welcomed particularly by the English speakers who believe that the Irish language requirement for access to funding created an invisible border on the island.
School teacher John McNamara is in favour of all efforts to reunite the island.
I think it's only right that the island of Achill should be reunited.
Ivan McPhillips explains that the area has lost eleven per cent of its population since the last census and the islanders are now crying out for development.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 17 October 1994. The reporter is Jim Fahy.