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May 25th 2005

Town centre must prepare

We wrote a small piece in our last issue on changes that are taking place along t he banks of the Eske. As the most important amenity area in town, the river and its environs forms a microcosm of all else that might happen in our community and the impetus could come from an offer contained in a letter that appears on page 19 of this issue. It is addressed to members of Donegal County Council and is a proposal to dispose of grounds owned by the local authority at the far pier to the North West Tourism Authority, for the development of an information centre. Along with other plans for the area that include better lighting, walkway, green area, attractive plants and a marina, there is also the projected Autumn arrival of our new waterbus.
All good – all positive - and, if done right, a great enhancement to the town’s most valuable natural asset.
Over past months, indeed years, we have been reporting on economic advancement, or rather lack of it, in this area. We have recorded the rivalry between developers, the latest coup, the objections and observations, and, along with the rest of our people, despaired of ever moving forward at this level.
But move forward we will, once the first development gets off the ground. But there is another level at which we need to get our act together if we are to be seen as an inviting, welcoming and friendly destination. There are so many facilities we need in town if we are to attract visitors and, once here, keep them.
Our vision of what the quay area could become is a start – and an important one. But using that as a launching pad, we must move to create others. We lack so much in recreational infrastructure that its hard to know where to start. The new playground must be opened. A range of leisure amenities are essential – cinema, bowling, swimming pool etc, etc. – we must have more relaxation facilities – especially wet-weather ones.
Probably these will follow commercial development and, when this does take place on the periphery, it is possible that many existing retail outlets will be drawn to there. To combat this exodus, the centre of town must become an attraction in itself, pulling people in by complementary charm and lures. How to do this must be anticipated now – and groups such as the Community Chamber, Enterprise Group and Heritage Society should be discussing these eventualities and predicting future scenarios.
While the outskirts of town develops commercially, equally the centre must put in place other attractions that prevents it becoming a lifeless haven, harbouring only services, financial and licensed sectors.
And talking about development on the edge of town – Donegal Times backs fully the Dunnes Store scheme at the Mullans, as well as Keeney’s plans for the Magee and Upper Main Street sites. There is room for both.

Number of shareholders interested in backing Keeney to develop new mart at Ardlenagh/Lurganboy

According to a spokesman for Keeney Construction, a number of shareholders in the Donegal Co-operative Livestock Mart Limited are in discussion with his consortium with a view to developing a new state-of-the-art mart and a Donegal Creameries operated retail outlet, selling agricultural and hardware products, at Ardlenagh/Lurganboy.
According to this person, the disillusioned shareholders are understood to be on the verge of forming a breakaway group, in the belief that the prospects of securing permission for a replacement mart on another site in Donegal Town are very slim. They feel if they don’t go with Keeney’s option, they could lose the opportunity of getting a brand new facility on the zoned land at Ardlenagh/Lurganboy.
A number of the shareholders are understood to have met with representatives of Keeney Construction Limited last week to discuss the development of the new mart which would be independently run and held in private ownership, if the Mart Society do not come on board.
The spokesman told the Times ‘Keeney Construction Limited has invested hundreds of thousands of euros in designing and getting permission for a new mart which they can have built and operating by next year. The highest planning authority in the country has said that the mart won’t harm anybody or any business in the area, so why can’t we just get it built and stop the messing around.’

Hungarian Special Olympics team
returns to Donegal Town

The Hungarian group pictured with locals on the pier after a trip down the bay on the Waterbus.
Photo: Jason McGarrigle

The Hungarian basketball Special Olympians arrived in town last Thursday, 19th May. The fifteen strong delegation was greeted by the local committee at the Central where they were to stay for five days. There was a packed itinerary for their sojourn in Donegal Town, with highlights being the trip to the beach at Rossnowlagh and the Cliff and Sea rescue boat trip in Killybegs. The group and mentors said they were ‘amazed and overwhelmed’ at the level of hospitality received. One of the leaders expressed his wish that the special needs groups in Donegal and Hungary would exchange future trips. The group left this morning, Wednesday, to return home.


Absence of Auditor throws doubt on validity of meeting

About 75 people gathered on Thursday 12th May for the Annual General Meeting of the Donegal Town Livestock Mart. However, the event got off to a somewhat uncertain start when it was announced from the top table that the Society’s auditor was not present. The bombshell descended when chairman, John Kelly, informed the attendance that accountant, Seamus McGroary, had not turned up to present the financial report for 2004. Mart secretary, Shay Carabin, read out a letter from the auditor in which he claimed his staff were finding it difficult to concentrate on finalizing the mart accounts due to him not having been paid for some aspects of work previously done.
This led to much debate as to whether, in the absence of accounts, the meeting could proceed. Eventually the society’s legal advisor, Donal P. Gallagher, was asked his opinion. The Main Street solicitor said that properly constituted accounts were essential to an AGM and that, in their absence, any decision reached at the meeting could, in the future, be liable to legal challenge. He deemed that the meeting could proceed by becoming part of a future AGM, but any discussion that took place could not be voted on.
So, under these constraints, proceedings commenced. The committee was re-elected en-bloc, with two new members added, bringing its total to nineteen.
The chairman said there had been only one motion submitted for discussion. It came from John Cassidy and essentially proposed there would be no further extension to the Keeney contract after June 1st and that, following this date, the Society would go back to Bennett Construction to find out if that company still had an interest in Donegal mart. If an interest was forthcoming, then let an EGM decide how to procede. If not, upgrade the existing mart, and stay put.
Danny Gallagher, Mountcharles, referring back to the meeting in the Millpark Hotel on 3rd February 2004, claimed that, of the two votes taken, the first, on whether members wanted to relocate the mart, did not indicate any specific location.
This was disputed by the top table who said that the two parties concerned had identified specific sites in advance, and this was contained in the conditions that auditor Seamus McGroary had drawn up. However Seamus Gallagher agreed with Danny, that the vote on relocation was taken before specific sites were identified.
John Hamilton “We want to re-locate the mart - the floor must decide”.
When another member interjected to say that Keeney had planning permission for a mart (at Lurganbuoy/Ardlenagh), the chair ruled that this matter had already been decided and he wouldn’t allow any more discussion on it.
Leo Colhoun said members should wait till June 1st to make decisions. However, he declared “The contract stipulated Tullyearl”.
John Cassidy “It’s not clear what the situation is. There was another bidder there on Feburary 3rd of last year who was 25% above Keeney. We must talk to that man.”
Radine Hamilton said that both bidders (Keeney and Bennett) should be approached again after June 1st, and that it should not stop at that. She declared that the more bidders the better to get the best deal and achieve top price.
Leo Colhoun agreed “we might have more than two interested after June 1st.”
The Chairman cautioned that all must wait until the deadline of June 1st had passed “This man (Keeney) has worked miracles in the past, maybe he can do so again.”
John Hamilton read out a letter written by himself and wife Radine, which, he said, he wished placed on record.
The question of an extraordinary general meeting was raised and the top table said that any member was entitled to call such a meeting provided 40 signatures were collected.
The biggest applause of the night went to the man who said that the mart should stay where it is – “it wouldn’t take much to bring it up to standard”.
A man from the floor queried if Keeney had requested an extension to his contract. The answer from the top table was unclear.
Shortly after, the meeting fizzled out, probably as much because of the constraints placed on it by the legal advisor, as from the Chair’s ruling that no discussion could take place on Keeney’s offer of Ardlenagh/Lurganboy as an alternative site to Tullyearl.
The mart executive has now to re-convene the AGM, but not before its officers persuade auditor, Seamus McGroary, to finalise the accounts. Then 14 days notice of the new date must be communicated to members.

The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

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