Community Games cycle children fall foul of Aran ferry ban on bikesAugust 16, 2012 - 7:30am
By Bernie Ní Fhlatharta
Three children from the Aran Islands who are taking part in the national Community Games finals cycling competitions at the weekend have been told they cannot take their bicycles on the local ferry.
With just 24 hours to go before they leave Inis Mór, the parents are desperately trying to figure out how they will get the specialised bikes off the island to Athlone, where the Games are being held.
Over a month ago, Aran Ferries banned all bicycles on their services between Ros a Mhil and the three islands for health and safety reasons, according to them though the Health Safety Authority (HSA) was quick to point out that they hadn’t issued any such directive.
As of now, twelve years old Aisling Mullin, her eleven years old brother Caobhan and Laura Gill (11) don’t know how their sports kit (the special bikes) are getting to Athlone in time for the Games but they have been assured by their parents that they will get them off the island “one way or another”.
Clodagh Ní Ghoill, mother of Aisling and Caobhan, said she had approached the ferry company as soon as they announced their ban on bikes in the belief that they would make an exception for youngsters taking part in a cycling competition.
All three are representing their county and Aisling is a national gold and silver medallist from the last two years.
Their transport options are limited. Aran Ferries is their public transport but won’t allow them take their bikes, they have to establish if the Aer Arann plane can physically take three bicycles in its baggage and cargo hold or they could hire a private boat.
There is a cargo ferry service three times a week but this doesn’t suit their timings. They probably could go to Inis Oírr and take the Doolin Ferry into Doolin but they would have the inconvenience of transporting the bikes from there to Athlone in time for the event.
In email correspondence between the ferry operator and Clodagh, Susan O’Brien of Aran Ferries explains that they don’t have storage space for bicycles on board and that they can’t risk injury to either staff or passengers during the process or bringing the bike on or off board.
Clodagh Ní Ghoill has written to a number of public representatives, including An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, as she believes this is a national issue – yesterday he responded by letter promising to liaise with the ferry company on their behalf.
Read more in today’s Connacht Tribune