An Oireachtas committee has called on the Minister for Education to introduce special measures to ensure the viability of the country’s island schools.

In a report published today the Oireachtas Committee on Education says the retention of the schools, with appropriate resources, is essential to maintaining the overall sustainability of the islands.

It recommends that a special allowance for teachers in island schools be reinstated to recognise the additional pressures and constraints of the role.

The €1,600 allowance was abolished for new entrants in 2012, and has led to difficulties in recruiting new teachers, according to Education and Training Boards.

The report also recommends that a higher proportion of teachers be allocated to the schools, and that island post-primary schools be granted DEIS or disadvantaged status, to enable them to provide the additional resources needed to provide a full curriculum.

It also calls for a specific policy for island schools to be drafted and implemented.

Welcoming the recommendations, Tomás MacPháidín of Galway Roscommon Education and Training Board said this was the second Oireachtas committee report, and the third time a committee had examined the issue in 18 months.

He said Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has also chaired a Cabinet sub committee on the issue last year.

Mr MacPháidín said the issue was being "churned" and that it was now time for implementation. 

429 children and young people attend 17 island schools.

The numbers are relatively evenly divided between primary and second level. There are 12 island primary schools and five post primary.