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May 12th 2004

Think carefully before casting your vote

A tongue-in-check item in our last issue looked at town signage on the level of grammatical correctness. By coincidence, in the same paper, our town executive also mentioned the signs in relation to suitability to streetscapes and local character.
In overall layout, Donegal Town is well designed and has all the natural characteristics needed to complement its physical structure. Surrounded by mountains and hills, its inner bay flows past scenic islands to narrow into the River Eske, which runs through the town centre. The O’Donnell Castle and Abbey occupy prominent positions, and the three churches, especially when floodlit at night, highlight the religious and historical position this town holds in the evolution of our culture over past generations.
But unfortunately, as often happens, this natural, cultural, religious and historical envolvement, has been diminished by many man-made recent developments – the well defined infrastructure laid down by our predecessors is, to some extent, eroded and diminished by our planners, business interests and developers.
Donegal Town, to a large degree, has been badly served by its own people. A complacent, ‘let somebody else do it’ attitude has seen opportunities missed and developments take place that have not always been in the best interest of the town and its populace. This is evident in a myriad of forms, from the cold concrete of the Diamond, to unsuitable housing and commercial development interspersed through traditional streetscapes, detracting from the cultural and historical character of the town.
Our area has, over the years, lacked strong leadership, authoritive people willing to stand up to defend the town from unsuitable and detrimental ventures. But perhaps it is not yet too late. We now have a town executive, an active chamber and at least three local candidates running in the forthcoming council elections. Never, in the history of the town, has there been so much development planned for the area. This is development that is badly needed and much welcomed by our community, but it must fit in to the layout of the locality and be carried out in good taste. It is up to those people we depend on in authority, whether paid, voluntary, or elected, to make sure this happens. There is no point in somebody running for the council, seeing it just as a cushy number that pays well. This is a responsible position and should be sought only by those prepared to work hard to better their electoral area and constituents.
Over the next five weeks, candidates will be knocking on doors looking for votes. Don’t just mutter platitudes and promise ‘I’ll see you right”. Ask questions. There are problems aplenty in our area and many plans and projections about to come on stream. Grill the prospective politicians about these - find out their policies. There are many questions •the half finished sewerage scheme •the new town plan, including industrial zone, residential sites, recreational and green areas, town park, walks •upgrading of Diamond, removing of transformers, •car parking •upkeep of Old Abbey cemetery •new cinema, swimming pool •development of pier area •future design and evolution of Revlin and Drimlonagher •above all, find out their vision for the future of the town.
All these are legitimate questions for those canvassing at your door. Past achievements, old glories, or family connections are not enough to make a successful advocate. We need achievers in the Council, with a vision for the future - and it is on the basis of sound concrete policies and how hard each candidate is willing to work to achieve these, that our votes should be cast. Keep this in mind when marking your voting slip on polling day.
And rest assured, no matter who is elected, Donegal Times will be keeping a close eye on performances. Praise will be given if deserved, but equally, we will not hesitate to criticise.
Addendum: This opinion piece was written before a book entitled ‘Donegal Town - An Enhancement Plan 2004 - 2009’ came to hand. A very comprehensive work by Ann O’Leary and Associates, it lays out a five year vision for our area. We will be reviewing and quoting extensively from this report in future issues. In the meantine, our potential politicians could do worse than get their hands on a copy - it will certainly give them a blueprint on which to base policies on how to enhance the visual and recreational amenities of the town and environs.

Sponsored Fancy Dress 'Toddle' for Bernados

The boys and girls from Kid Kare nursery dressed up in all their finery and, accompanied by staff members, Sharon Graham, Orla McDowell, Lucia Kelly and Sarah McGinty, headed to Murvagh beach on Friday last to partake in a ‘sponsored toddle’ for Bernardos
Photo: Jason McGarrigle

Pat the Cope responds to Donegal Times Questions

Mr. Pat The Cope Gallagher T.D., Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government, has today (10 May 2004) responded to issues raised by Donegal Times in relation to the sewer laying works associated with the Donegal Main Drainage Scheme.
Pat the Cope said, “My Department, which is funding the scheme, has been in contact with Donegal County Council about the discharge of sewage from manholes in Meetinghouse Street. The Council has confirmed that the discharges are not in any way related to the works being carried out under the Main Drainage Scheme. However, the Council has carried out CCTV surveys and will be examining the results to ascertain what action needs to be taken to rectify the problems reported in the area.”
The Minister has also clarified the position relating to completion of the work on the Main Drainage Scheme itself. Donegal County Council has advised him that the contractor for the new sewers has moved all machinery and materials off site, but that the Council is endeavouring to get the remaining works finished. “The contract is 95% complete and any outstanding items will be completed as soon as is possible.” the Minister said. “The Council have also assured me that work will shortly commence on the re-instatement of roads affected by the sewer laying works. It is understood that there is a Performance Bond in place that will protect the Council against any additional cost associated with the original contractor’s departure.”
The Donegal Main Drainage Scheme, estimated cost €30 million, is being funded by Minister Gallagher’s Department, under the Water Services Investment Programme. The objective of the scheme is to put in place a modern wastewater treatment infrastructure for domestic, commercial and industrial requirements in Donegal Town. This scheme will also ensure compliance with the Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive by improving marine water quality in Donegal Bay.
The scheme consists of a new wastewater treatment works, pumping stations, sludge de-watering facility, rising mains and sewer network. “Tenders have now been sought for the construction of the new treatment works and main pumping stations with a closing date of 21st May 2004”, Pat the Cope said. “The Council should be in a position to formally award the contract for these works by the end of the year.”

The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

Tel: +353-74-9722860 Fax: +353-74-9722937