DONEGAL TIMES

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January 11th 2006

How was it for you?

AD 2005 is over, finito, RIP - it was a year many of us will be happy to forget. Of late, acres of newsprint have been devoted to reviewing the 12 months gone by and, in general, it makes depressing reading. However, forgetting the national and international picture - let’s have a look at our own little enclave of south and west Donegal and analyse the happenings of 2005 under a number of headings.
Manufacturing and Services
A traumatic year on this front peaked in August with the announcement by Hospira management that its plant was to close at the end of 2006. The repercussions attendant to this proclamation have yet to be fully evaluated - but, unless a new industry is announced for the town, there could be trying times ahead for a lot of people.
Ancillary services to the fishing industry have suffered badly in Ireland’s premier port of Killybegs due to cutbacks in days at sea - and the landing of catches in foreign ports. The consequence of this fall in maritime trade has caused a major downturn in the retail and hospitality sectors of the town, with some shops and businesses closing up - and a general air of gloom over the area.
Tourism
Most owners of hospitality businesses report a poor season, with visitor numbers down and an overall lack of spending. The exception to this could be the White Group - owners of the Abbey and Central Hotels, which has carved out a niche of its own in the low-cost volume market. Operating in big numbers at rock-bottom prices, this policy keeps heads on beds, but is it of any value to the rest of the area? The people are bused in, wined, dined and entertained within the hotels, making their contribution to the local economy minimal - except, of course, for the large number of staff employed to service the visitors - and the construction and craft workers who are involved in the continuous expansions of the hotels.
The waterbus, once again, has proved to be Donegal’s greatest attraction, drawing on board record numbers.
Probably the most successful tourist town in our area at present is Ardara, a town of great character and traditional ambience that keeps the festivals running and visitors happy.
Commercial
The announcement by the IDA that it is to provide an office block for Donegal Town, as a sop to losing Hospira, is risible - there is no demand for office space in this area. Almost every landlord in town has spare capacity available that they cannot let. Something more practical would need to be devised.
Development
Is there any necessity to get into this subject? All that needs to be said is that six years down the road, despite promises and blueprints showing exotic schemes, not one block has been laid to start any of the projected developments. And, if the culture of objection carries on, not one will, because the big operators will get fed up and move to other, more receptive, towns.
Agricultural
I don’t know much about this sector. The farmers, as usual, don’t seem happy, but, judging that they could turn down an offer of €6 million for the mart, with €2 million going directly to them, the agri community can’t be that badly off. It will be interesting to see how they handle the new offer from Daniel Gallagher, one segment of which is that a non-refundable deposit of €1 million goes directly to the shareholders.
(continued in print edition)

Pictured cutting the cake at their wedding recently, are Orla Meehan of Church Rd, Killybegs, and Damian Diver of Drumaghey, Ardara. The wedding took place in Cuba on the 22nd of November and the honeymoon was also spent on the island.

NEW BID FOR MART GAZUMPS BENNETT

Daniel Gallagher bids €2 million more than Westmeath developer

Mountcharles man Daniel Gallagher jnr has submitted a proposal to the Mart Secretary, Seamus Carbin, with the backing of a significant number of shareholders, to buy the existing mart site. His offer includes the construction of a new mart on an eight acre parcel of land at a cost of €2,650,000, together with a cash contribution to the Society of €2 million. Mr Gallagher is also understood to have offered an additional non-refundable deposit of €1 million which would be distributed amongst the 288 shareholders of the Society as soon as a contract is signed, resulting in a cash windfall of approximately €3,500 for each member. It is reported that Mr Gallagher has bought a site at Ardlenagh/Lurganboy from Keeney Construction Limited for €1,820,000. This was granted planning permission for the erection of a new mart by An Bord Pleanala in March 2005. However, when contacted by Donegal Times, Mr Gallagher said he would not comment at this stage.

Continued in print edition of Donegal Times

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