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June 9th 2004

Use your ‘lethal weapon

The late Conal McCauley once described a small farmer coming into town to vote in a general election. For the previous four years he had been ignored by all, but on this day, the great and good of the political parties were awaiting at the voting centre to court him assiduously.
Why? - Well as Conal famously put it. “Because he had the ‘lethal weapon’ in his inside pocket” - i.e. his polling card.
And so it has been for the past month – we have been courted by one and all – met the candidates on our doorsteps – had our carpets littered with manifestos. Promises made, policies enunciated – Vote Me, No. 1.
But its easy to be cynical - at least these people have the courage to put their heads above the parapet – and, agree with them or not, they deserve the respect of our participation in the process.
Decide yourselves – but bear in mind this should not be a party political process – we here in Donegal Town and environs need the strongest, most hard working team available. And whether Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Sinn Fein or Independent - it’s your job to pick it!

1st Preference Prediction
By our Political Correspondant

Sean McEniff FF 1900
Paul Coughlan FF 1650
Thomas Pringle SF 1420
John Boyle FG 1400
Peter Kennedy FF 1120
Joyce McMullin FG 1060
Billy Grimes FF 1050
Barry O’Neill FG 980
Brendan Byrne FF 970
Ernan McGettigan IND 920
Florence Doherty Green 630
Seamus Gillespie FF 490
Joe Gallagher IND FF 410

Total 14000

6 Seats: Quota 2,000
If this prediction is any way close to the mark, the scene is set for an intriguing count in the Bosco Centre on Sunday.
Very important reminder
This is just one person’s call - it is you the people that decide who wins by coming out and casting a vote for your preferred candidates. By doing so, you can confound the forecast and achieve your desired result. Voting Day Friday June 11th.

Election Snippets

•Florence Doherty declared herself ‘chuffed’ to be named in Donegal Times as the’ best-looking person’ featuring in the election posters that festoon the area.
•Independent Ernan McGettigan was not so chuffed to have Cross Bencher declare him the Community Chamber candidate. “I’m in this election to represent everyone from Bundoran to Glen” scolded Ernan.
•A discussion at a recent social gathering concluded that whoever is running Joyce’s campaign could have produced a better picture of the former GAA star to hang on the poles of the region.
•Arriving in the Donegal Times office with Jim McDaid and cousin Mary, Paul Coughlan, after perusing the front covers of the paper that cover one wall stated “I’m just trying to see if there’s one that Pringle isn’t on”.
• “You’re the sexiest man out here” so declared Mary Coughlan to a blushing Peader Thomas, when the Minister opened the new Services Centre at Drumlonagher.
•For Sean McEniff, this election is a chance to create a personal record – to top the poll for the first time in the Donegal Electoral Area.
•Joyce, making the most of his All-Ireland winning status, has recruited old team mates Matt Gallagher, Martin and James McHugh, Manus Boyle and Noel Hegarty, to bolster his chances on the peripheries.
•Brendan Byrne, the FF candidate from ‘in thro’ commented on the perspicacity of Donegal Times in naming him the ‘Dark horse’ who could emerge as the contender to take the last seat on the day.
•At the opening of the new Service Centre on Friday, Cllr. Boyle asked Peter Kennedy if he could have some of his spare votes because he feels he may be short a few.

Services Centre Officially Opened by Minister Coughlan

The great and the good witness Minister Mary Coughlan cut the ribbon to officially open the new centre
Photo: & Text by Margaret Gallagher

The new Public Services Centre was officially opened last Friday, 4th June. Attended by all the leading business, civic and political figures in the county, the ceremony was performed by Mary Coughlan TD, Minister for Social and Family affairs. The Centre brings many agencies together under one roof and creates a focal point for the provision of public services to customers and the community.
The development of the Centre originated from the initial decision of Donegal County Council in 1996 to decentralise and reorganise the delivery of its services around the electoral area model. The aim is to provide information on all public services and to develop the centres into ‘single access points’ for as wide a range of assistance as possible.
The companies involved in the construction of the Centre were Bennett Construction and Tracey Brothers, along with BOHA architects. The OPW was responsible for accommodating government departments and agencies in the Centre.
At the opening Minister Coughlan said – “This Public Service Centre represents a huge infrastructural investment in the town of Donegal and will make a big contribution to public service availability and provision in the area”.
“My Department has been very happy to collaborate in the effort to regroup services and I’m particularly pleased that we have been able to relocate the Donegal Social Welfare local office to this Centre.”
“This augurs well for the new Government decentralisation programme. which offers great opportunity to those staff who wish to return home to Donegal or move away from city life, as well as the benefits it will bring to the local economy,” said Minister Coughlan.
An additional 350 people from the Minister’s Department will be moving to Donegal – 120 will be located in Bruncrana and a further 230 will be based in Donegal Town. This will increase the number of Social Welfare staff in Donegal from 290 to 640.
Minister Coughlan referred to the Government’s commitment to the electronic delivery of public services and announced that: “the REACH agency, for which my Department is responsible, is set to launch the initial public services broker at the end of this month. It will be known as Reachservices and will provide a single point of online access to public services.
Organisations providing services from the centre include; the Department of Social and Family Affairs, Donegal County Council, FAS, Donegal Information Service, Comhairle, Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS), Office of the Revenue Commissioners, Department of Agriculture and Food and the National Roads Authority (NRA). The North Western Health Board plans to locate key services to the centre in the near future.
Minister Coughlan’s department also funds the independent information service, operated by Donegal Information Service, and the Money Advice and Budgeting Service provided from the Centre.
The Donegal Centre is the fifth Public Service Centre to open in the county and joins the others in Carndonagh, Milford, Letterkenny and Dungloe. There are plans to open a sixth centre in Stranorlar in the future.”
After the minister, local man Garry Martin, Divisional Manager, Community, Culture and Enterprise, introduced the County Manager, Michael McLoone, who was to be MC for the occasion. Michael explained that it all started when he got a phone call one day from James Boyle who was the executive engineer on the Donegal by-pass, being built at the time, to say that Joe McKeown was selling 12.5 acres of land at Drimlonagher and felt it would be a good investment, with development opportunities.
Next up was local Councillor Peter Kennedy who said he was a proud man to have this ‘one stop shop’ on his doorstep, “Donegal Town has come a long way in the last five years”.
Cllr Sean McEniff, introduced as the longest serving councillor, said he had not much time to talk as there was still a lot of canvassing to be done and he was finding it hard to keep up with the young fellows. He congratulated Michael McLoone and said how lucky we are to have the finest County Manager in the country.
Cllr John Boyle said the building was as good as the staff that worked there and then went on to make what Mr McLoone termed ‘a party political broadcast’.
Killybegs man, Cllr. Thomas Pringle, said that the fine Centre would help bring the council closer to the people and the people closer to the council.
The chairman of Donegal County Council, Cllr David Alcorn addressed the crowd next stating that this was one of his last official engagements as chairman and he was proud to attend the fifth council office opening “Donegal has led the way on decentralisation”. He concluded by wishing the seven retiring members of the council well, and said he was looking forward to the 25th June when he would welcome back the new council.
Minister Pat the Cope took a walk down ‘memory lane’ taking us from the prefabs, with rain dropping down, to this state of the art building and mentioning names such as Joe Brennan, the two Christies, Brian Gallagher, Jim White, Thomas Gildea, Brendan Murrin, Cathal Coughlan - not forgetting Clement, and all other fellow councillors who served the county so well.
In conclusion Mr McLoone apologised for the long ceremony but said “what is 80 minutes when it took 8 years to get here”. The evening ended with a buffet in the building catered for by Jenni Timony of Doolittles.

The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

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