Cyclists return with Community Games medals - but no bikesAugust 23, 2012 - 7:00am
Three young cyclists returned home to the Aran Islands with medals from the National Community Games but without their bikes because of a new policy introduced by the local ferry operator.
The three competitors and their families were in jubilant mood on Sunday evening with one Silver and one Bronze medals but efforts are being made already to address the issue of a ban on bicycles on the ferry.
It was touch and go up to the last minute last week if the children, Aisling and Caobhán Mullin and Laura Gill could get their bicycles off the island for the competition in Athlone.
Clodagh Ní Ghóill, mother of both Aisling and Caobhán, said she was very appreciative of the support and offers of help from boatowners and fishermen, Aer Arann and the cargo boat. The bikes eventually did get off the islands onto the mainland via the cargo boat, while the children and their families travelled on Aran Ferry.
However, the bikes had to be picked up from Galway Docks after the families travelled from Ros a Mhil before heading to Athlone.
On Tuesday, the bikes were still on the mainland, being stored in friends’ houses as they couldn’t bring them home on the Sunday evening ferry.
“We were disappointed with the way we were treated by the ferry company and I believe that this has to be sorted out longterm, as the ferry is our public transport system.
“I believe that the local co-ops on the islands, who are monitoring the ferry’s Public Service Obligation performance, are now trying to get a meeting with the Department of the Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht.
“They had tried to meet before this but couldn’t get a meeting. I believe the ferry company’s PSO contract is up in January and I don’t think they should be allowed to ban passengers, especially the islanders who depend on the ferry year round,” said Clodagh.
She said the drama of trying to get the bikes off the island in time
for the competition had caused some grief to them, which made their respective wins all the more special.
See full story in this week's Connacht Tribune.