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October 23rd 2002

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Planning - Still Questions to Answer

Has the Democrat run out of steam in its so-called planning scandal expose? Since the initial revelations in its edition of September 5th, under the headline ‘Explosive planning claims to rock Donegal Co. Council’, we have been drip-fed a series of minor teasers with the promise of the big story to follow. This has never happened. With the threat of legal proceedings hanging over it, the editor and senior journalists are under pressure to come up with some proof of serious planning irregularities, but so far have not done so.

At the same time, it does not seem proper that the Co. Manager is offering blanket support to Council staff and members if they should wish to seek legal advice or institute legal proceedings against Mr. Convie and/or the Donegal Democrat. This could mean that payers of rates and other Council charges would ultimately suffer if these actions were not to succeed. And seeing that there is hardly a man on the street who does not have a sense of unease at some aspect of the planning process, this doesn’t seem fair.

And it is disingenuous for Co. Manager, Mr. Michael McLoone, to claim that no further actions are necessary on charges made by Mr. Gerard Convie, on the basis that he, Mr. Convie, had withdrawn these allegations on foot of a settlement that was made previous to a High Court appearance in October 2001. Many’s a man, when faced with the daunting prospect of a court appearance and its attendant cost, will settle and withdraw, even if he feels his cause is justified. The Council and its planners have, at all times, to vindicate themselves, not just in relation to any one man - but in relation to the whole population of Co. Donegal, for which they are responsible. When Mr. Convie signed a settlement on the steps of the High Court, he did so for himself - not the people of Donegal.

Now that the Irish Times has entered the fray with an article last Saturday about planning on the Inishowen Peninsula, it behoves a better response from Mr. McLoone than ‘no further action is necessary’.


At the Harvest Festival Thanksgiving Service in the Church of Ireland last week were Gaelscoil pupils Clíona Regan, Dylan o Coinn, Emma Jayne Mitchell.

Donegal International Walking Festival - all the hard graft becomes worthwhile when the walkers cross a high ridge on the Bluestacks and the splendour of Donegal’s scenery opens out before them.


County Retail Strategy Passed by Council

Donegal Town in top league

At a General Purposes Meeting of Donegal Co. Council, held in Lifford last week, the Retail Strategy for the county was passed. The purpose of this strategy is to identify key centres within the county, address leakages to other centres such as Sligo and Derry, strengthen the role of key centres across the county and ensure that there is a good geographical distribution of key centres in the hierarchy around the county.

The hierarchy that achieves this is:

  • Tier 1 - Primary Centre: Letterkenny.
  • Tier 2 - Major centre: Donegal Town and Dungloe (dual centre with Bunbeg/Derrybeg);
  • Tier 3 - Main Centre: Ballybofey/Stranorlar and Cardonagh;
  • Tier 3 - Main Centre: Ballyshannon; Buncrana; Bundoran; Killybegs.
  • Tier 4 - Local centre: Ardara; Castlefinn; Convoy; Falcarragh; Glenties; Lifford; Milford; Moville; Ramelton; Raphoe.

In the case of Co. Donegal the split in the Tier 3 hierarchy is due to the following factors:

  • There needs to be real clarity in what are the top centres within the hierarchy and these are Tier 1 and Tier 2.
  • Both Ballybofey/Stranorlar and Cardonagh should be within Tier 2, but at present do not achieve this level.
  • They however rank above other centres in Tier 3, which has already been recognised by the Co. Council in the designation of both as regional centres for local government decentralisation.

In recognition of these factors, the strategy must therefore provide the policy framework to enable both centres to become Tier 2 over the period to 2011.

The designation as Tier 2 is extremely important to Donegal Town. The lack of this designation was the stumbling block on which Dunnes Stores toppled when it was refused permission by An Bord Pleanala recently. With the strategy now in place, Tesco at Revlin Park seems one step closer and, according to Clr Thomas Pringle, this development should get the green light at the Council’s November meeting.

Cllr. Pringle further added that the designation of Donegal Town as Tier 2, a major Centre, would make the town and environs a much more attractive area for further development.


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