Consultants have been appointed to advise the Office of Public Works on applying for new planning permission for a pier for the Great Blasket Island.
Landing facilities for visitors to the island have long been discussed, with the OPW providing seasonal tours for visitors.
Tour boats to the island currently must transfer visitors to dinghies as they cannot land directly at the island itself.
The update was provided by Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW, Patrick O’Donovan, in response to a parliamentary question from Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin.
Minister O’Donovan said the OPW continues to plan for improved landing facilities on the island, which would allow boats to land passengers directly to the island.
Planning permission was granted for a pier in 2003, but Kerry County Council previously told the OPW that new planning permission would be required because of changes to the designated status of the island, and to environmental regulations.
Minister O’Donovan said new environmental and other reports, as well as a detailed design will all be required to support a new planning application.
He added the OPW has recently contacted relevant stakeholders, and a senior officials group has been convened to progress the plans.
He said consultants have been appointed to provide expert advice on ecological and planning issues related to the landing facilities.
Meanwhile, tenders for a new Conservation Management Plan for the island have now closed, and Minister O’Donovan said it’s anticipated the successful tenderer will be appointed by the middle of this year.
This plan will consider marine biology, environmental ecology, archaeology, and will also acknowledge the island’s unique role in Irish cultural heritage.
Deputy Griffin also asked about improvements to visitor facilities on the island, after it was reported last year some visitors had defecated in the ruins of Peig Sayer’s house because of a lack of toilets.
Minister O’Donovan said the OPW reached an agreement with a local landowner to provide toilet facilities and an indoor shelter for visitors for 2023, which was in place for the reopening of the island to visitors in April.
He added work on progressing permanent welfare facilities for visitors are also being progressed.