A call has been made for high speed broadband on Árainn Mhór island off the coast of Donegal to help reverse the serious population decline it has suffered.

Over the past 50 years the population of the island has almost halved to just over 400 people and according to islander Nora Flanagan, it has been two years since the last child was born on the island. 

Ms Flanagan, organiser of this weekend's Peadar O'Donnell Conference on the island, said more young people have to be attracted back and to do that there needs to be sustainable employment and broadband is critical to that.

The conference, which is focusing on how to reverse the depopulation of Ireland's offshore islands, is looking at sustainable island employment including industry based on natural marine resources such as seaweed.

While islands like Árainn Mhór offer an idyllic setting, a unique lifestyle and the benefits of good schools and other facilities, Ms Flanagan said there are very few professional opportunities to incentivise the return of islanders to their native home or to invite non-islanders to move there.

The CEO of Údaras na Gaeltachta, Mícheál Ó hÉanaigh, told the conference that the national strategy for broadband is the long-term solution for islands like Árainn Mhór but in the meantime it is working on interim solutions like digital hubs on islands to give people the opportunity to work.

Árainn Mhór