A TORTUOUS saga surrounding Government plans to buy the Great Blasket Island is set to continue even further, it emerged at the weekend.
An Bord Pleanala has deferred until July its decision on a key development for the island - a café and supporting facilities.
For almost 20 years, Government proposals for the future of the literary Kerry island have hit a series of obstacles.
Crucially, the purchase plan now hinges on the granting of planning for the café.
Blascaod Mor Teo, the company seeking permission to build the cafe, owns 17 of the 25 holdings on the island and was given planning approval by Kerry County Council, last November.
However, appeals were afterwards lodged with An Bord Pleanala which had been expected to give its decision on April 24.
That decision has now been put back to July 18.
To date, the company has twice been given permission by the county council for the café, the first time being in 2004.
It is unlikely, however, to reapply if the current appeal is upheld.
Last November, Blascaod Mor Teo director Peter Callery said the purchase of the island and the building of new piers could proceed quickly, if there was no appeal.
But, he also said it was "doubtful" if the company would reapply for planning in the event of the appeal being successful.
Mr Callery, a Dingle solicitor, said enough money had been spent on the project and they did not want to waste any more.
The 2004 application was refused on the grounds that the building would be too large and visually obtrusive. Permission given last November was for a smaller building, with conditions attached.
The decision to grant planning was welcomed by the Office of Public which has been negotiating for many years on behalf of the Government, and local supporters of the project.
People in the Dingle Peninsula are now anxiously awaiting what could be a final say on the issue from An Bord Pleanala.
The long-term plan is to have the Great Blasket designated as a National Historic Park.
The €10 million project also involves the building of two new piers, one on the island and the other at Dunquin, on the mainland.
It proposed to leave the ruined village, evacuated more than half a century ago, undisturbed with visitor numbers to the island being limited.
By Donal Hickey