DONEGAL TIMES

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August 11th 2005

We want a say

Does the ordinary Joe Soap have a say on how his community develops? Can he input into evolving situations that might affect his future and that of his children? Has he the right to call for sight of plans that, if implemented, could transform the infrastructure around him, changing the world as he knows it?
Central government regulates our lives on a national scale. Local government does so at local level. We elect our representatives to both and trust them to do the job of looking after our best interests. The elected council acts as a democratic forum for the representation and articulation of local interests. Alongside, and complementary to the elected council, are the county manager and staff whose job is to discharge what are termed ‘executive functions’. The policy framework within which the manager exercises these functions is determined by elected members who have a pre-eminent role in maintaining an overview of local authority affairs generally.
The legal character of a local authority thus comprises two elements, the elected council and the county manager, with responsibility for performing reserved and executive functions shared between them.
The hierarchical chain of command that stretches out from the executive reaches its tentacles into all six electoral areas of Co. Donegal. Here in Donegal Town, we have officials and back-up staff looking after our best interests. But herein lies a problem. Often it is difficult to make contact with these people to find out what our best interests are.
There has to be accountability and transparency. Letters must be replied to, phone calls answered or returned, face-to-face meetings held, and explanations offered. Loval governance must be for the good of all - lines of communication have to be maintained - the local community must at all times be informed of what is being done in their name.

Ocean Fm would need to pull up its socks

When Ocean FM was first awarded the licence to broadcast to the North West, we were promised local news, not only through the week, but at weekends as well. This has not happened - whole bulletins are now spewing out national and international stories. If we want country or world-wide news, we have plenty of outlets from which to get it. What we want from local radio is local news - and similarly with current affairs programmes.
But there is more wrong with Ocean than just news and current affairs and we believe that chief executive Padraig O’Dwyer should concentrate his undoubted media skills to bringing us the station promised in the initial euphoria of being granted the licence to broadcast to south Donegal, Sligo and north Leitrim.
Now approaching one year in business - the probation period is over - and Ocean is not living up to expectations. The JNLR figures, due to be released soon, will make interesting reading.

Fun and Frolics at Ballintra Races

More than horses caught the eye at the Ballintra Races on Bank Holiday Monday. The judges showed how discerning they were by picking Times reporter, Margaret Gallagher, as ‘Best Dressed Lady’ on the day. Sponsored by Magee, our girl picked up a voucher for €250 for use in the fashion and gift store. Pictured is Aidan Heraghty of Magee presenting Margaret with champagne and flowers in the company of John Joe McGarrigle, Tina Keane & Maureen Walls.

By our (beautifully dressed) racing correspondent

Margaret Gallagher

The August Bank Holiday Monday means only one thing - Ballintra Races - so it was hats on - and up the road. The sun shone high in the sky and, with a crowd of approx 5,000 people gathered in the Murvagh field, a card of 6 races, 14 bookmakers, plenty of activities for the kids, the scene was set for a fun-packed day.
The committee had been out from early morning with the water-tanks spraying the race track to have the going good. Traffic started to build up from noon, with the hard-working stewards, committee and civil defence keeping everything moving well. The first race was off at 2.30pm and Catherine Allen reported entries high. Indeed the fifth race had to be split as there were 16 horses entered - a number the committee decided wouldn’t be prudent or safe. This was good news for the punters - an extra gallop to try and recoup losses!!
Dougie was his busy self in the weigh-in room, Collie called home the winners and Michael Devaney, president of the committee, looked out for the best turned-out horse in each race. The hospitality lady herself, Maureen Walls, kept her usual watchful eye, ensuring everything was running smoothly.
A featured event of the meeting was the ‘best dressed lady’ sponsored by Magee & Co, and first past the post this year was a real outsider - myself. I wore a Joseph Ribkoff black and cream dress, teamed up with a two-tone hat carrying the same colours. After breaking out the champers, Aidan Heraghty of Magee & Co. presented me with a bouquet of flowers and €250 voucher - for which I say a big thank you.
Mullinsole man and sponsor of the Derby, Martin Quinn, was his usual perky self, considering he had just returned from a weekend away attending the wedding of former main sponsor, Ted Cunningham, who married Cathy Armstrong in Cork, with reception in the prestigious Drumoland Castle. Martin told me that Ted would be back next year in all his glory to sponsor the big race. Martin Harley from Letterkenny picked up the best jockey prize having won three races.
Stephen Anderson, secretary of the Ballintra Race committee, said they were very pleased with the turnout, “We’re delighted, it was the biggest crowd ever”. With not many favourites winning, the bookies were happy. Some of the punters may have left with empty pockets but the fun and frolics of the day compensated for this. A great festival and, although the races may have ended at 6pm, the fun wasn’t over at that. It was then up to the Community Centre in Ballintra for the race dance where we boogied the night away to ‘Rambling Fever’.


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