DONEGAL TIMES

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November 26th 2003

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New developments add diversity to town

Slowly but surely, Donegal is on a commercial upswing. A spate of new openings over 2003 has added to the diversity of choice, making our town more attractive to shoppers, both visiting and local. While still lacking the major multiple that would make the centre of town self-sufficient, the possibility of such an operation moving in has increased with Cllr. Kennedy’s assertion that a major development is imminent in the car-park area and Bennett Construction’s interest in the Mart/Bosco site. Already two major projects, currently nearing completion, will add to the retail/accommodation mix i.e. the old cinema and Nero complexes.
But more than this, all over town, outlets that have recently changed hands, or had been lying empty, are being revamped. These range from First Active on Main Street, Classic Casuals on the Diamond to Eileen Mc Brearty’s Pub on Meeting House Street.
But probably the biggest boost to our town’s economy should come with the opening of the new Council offices at Drimlonagher. An imposing structure, dominating the entrance to town from the north, the development should kick-start further growth in this area. When contacted by Donegal Times, a spokesperson confirmed that the building will be handed over to the council next month, December, with a projected opening date of March 2004 – estimated cost of project €13.5 million. Tenants so far signed up for the facility include – Department of Social and Family Affairs; Revenue; Department of Agriculture, National Roads Authority, MABS; Citizens Information Service and North Western Health Board.
Moving a mile west, extensions to the Mill Park will vastly increase the hotel’s accommodations on all levels. Due to open at Christmas, this facility will significantly add to the spend capacity within our region.
As mentioned, Michael Kelly’s cinema project and Nero’s complex will contribute further choice to the retail mix in town - as will the conversion of the former First Active into a high class jewellers. Julian Ball of McCullaghs in Letterkenny told the Times that he hopes to open this shop in the first week of December, remarking that he is delighted to be coming in to such a progressive and vibrant town as Donegal.
Another new shop to open is ‘Special Occasions’ in the Diamond Centre, specialising in wedding accessories, costume jewellery, birth and christening gifts - and much more.
The rumoured re-opening of Eileen McBrearty’s pub would add life to the lower end of town and it will be good to have Classic Casuals back on the Diamond, blotting out the dead space left there since the unfortunate fire and the closure of Source boutique next door.
Still within our area, the Kee Complex at Laghey is taking shape nicely and should be open for business in early 2004. Desmond Kee confirmed to Donegal Times that the supermarket and garden centre are on target for late January, with the restaurant coming on stream in mid-March.
So all in all, things are looking good on an economic front - Donegal Town is becoming and increasingly attractive destination for the visitor, service seeker and shopper alike. Steady as she goes should be our motto, with an aim of progressing our area in a sustainable qualitative manner.

Selected Candidates Cllr John Boyle, Barry O’Neill and Joyce McMullin with Dinny McGinley TD Photo: Margaret Gallagher

Young pretenders selected to join sitting councillor

at Fine Gael Convention

When the mandarins of Mount Street descend on the constituency,

democracy takes a back seat” - Gallagher

The Fine Gael Convention which took place in the Ring Fort Inn, Dunkineely on Saturday 15th November, chaired by Senator Jim Higgins, was attended by over 300 people. Candidates proposed and seconded were Cllr. John Boyle, Colm Gallagher, Joyce Mc Mullin and Barry O’Neill.
In his acceptance speech John Boyle said he was glad to see so many young people in attendance. He outlined all the work he has done for the area over the past four years. However, he said, despite this, the population was falling in rural areas. “Donegal Town has 38 houses with 240 applicants – there are only six applicants for the ten houses in Dunkineely - everybody wants to move out of the area. Population is dropping – the young people are moving out. We lost a seat the last time and we can’t allow it to happen again”.

Colm Not Happy
Colm Gallagher pulled no punches when he got up to speak. “For the last four years the Fine Gael Party has been in a very unsatisfactory position in the Donegal Electoral area and, about a year ago, I was approached by a number of people to see if I would allow myself to be resurrected after a rest. And I should say, from 1967 to 1999, I was thirty-two years undefeated and for the last twelve years of this time I was leader of the Fine Gael council group - no mean achievement - also I was ten years secretary of the Local Authority Members Association. This took its toll – I was tired and took a rest - but I can guarantee you if I was to be a candidate again in the Donegal area, I could take a seat. I know tonight that there is a new system in that candidates can come along and bring their voting delegates with them, by paying membership on their behalf. That to me was not the old system - I contested five elections and never had to contest a convention. On the first occasion in 1967 we took three seats out of six and repeated that on the next two occasions. In 1999, some of those that are offering themselves as candidates tonight were approached and decided against going - they are now in the field and good luck to them. I know, because of the system, that the delegates here tonight - some I’m sure are attending their first Fine Gael convention ever - are stacked against me. But on the day I could get the votes - however I withdraw my name from the convention because I know it’s stacked against me. When the mandarins of Upper Mount Street descend on the constituency, democracy takes a back seat. The newly elected organiser could say two months ago that we have a candidate and I was not that candidate - that to me is not democracy. Ladies and gentlemen, for that reason I would thank my proposer and seconder, the branches in the parish of Inver who unanimously endorsed my candidacy - thank you from the bottom of my heart. It’s a long time till June, we will see what happens.”

Joyce gets the jersey
“I certainly don’t have anything near the experience of the two previous speakers. Experience is something I well know you can’t get until you go out and perform. It’s an honour to represent the Fine Gael Party, it’s been close to my family’s heart and my wife’s family heart, and that for me is a motivating factor. Through work, football, rugby, golf and sport I am close to a lot of the younger folk. I would like to compliment Jimmy McGroary who came to me last night and said in the interest of the party he was going to withdraw his name - this was a courageous step for Jimmy to take. I know he has been involved with the party for a long time and I want to thank him here and now – the unity of the party is far more important than any individual and that is what we want for the next few months. Also I want to pay tribute to Colm Gallagher whom I remember calling to our house talking Fine Gael when I was a nipper. Finally I won’t see this nomination as a victory, it’s basically a jersey – you get the jersey to play. The game hasn’t started yet but I know when the game starts, we will be there.

Youth of the future
Next to speak was Barry O’Neill. “I worked in NWR the last election and I had the honour to give the results to the homes – at that stage I didn’t think I would be standing here tonight as a candidate. I would like to thank Jim White and Phonsie Travers who introduced me to politics. I worked closely with Jim White last year for the general elections and left the Bosco Centre very sad when I saw business people from my own town carry Mary Coughlan shoulder high. Colm is right, I haven’t attended a convention before, but I think we can lift the three seats and the youth of the party is the vision and the future.”
A sad figure in the audience was Phonsie Travers, rejected as a candidate by his local Fine Gael colleagues. Talking to Donegal Times Phonsie confessed “I am gutted and very hurt - here I am on the sideline - sitting here brings it all back to me.”
A letter from Jimmy Mc Groary read in part “for personal reasons I am tendering my resignation as constituency treasurer, Chairman of the Donegal Town Branch, and active involvement with the party.”

Car-park development - A best kept secret

At the Donegal Electoral area meeting of November 15th, Cllr Thomas Pringle asked what was happening on the Council land behind the car-park in Donegal Town. Replying, planner Dennis Kelly said he didn’t know but was looking for information. Pringle then said whatever development was planned should go out to public tender and demanded that the council should be informed as to what was going on. At this a heated discussion sprang up between Cllr Peter Kennedy and Cllr Pringle, with Kennedy insinuating that there was no need for the Killybegs man to have this information. Cllr Pringle rejected this saying he also represented the area. Quipped Cllr Declan Mc Hugh “I wish I was in your position, I would be delighted if this (development) was going on in Ballyshannon.”

Statement from Donegal Times

The item about Phonsie Travers that appeared on the front page of Donegal Times last week was not meant to refer in an offensive manner to the people of Ballyshannon – rather it was intended as a tongue-in-cheek comment on the political parties in town – but by the inadvertent leaving out of the word ‘politics’ after Ballyshannon when typing up the text, an unintended meaning was conveyed. Donegal Times regrets any offence caused to the people of Ballyshannon whom it holds in high regard.

Liam Hyland,

Editor


The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

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