DONEGAL TIMES

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February 22nd 2006

We tell it as we see it

A letter to the Democrat from one Gertrude O’Connell, Bruckless, commends columnist Patsy McGowan and says the paper is privileged to have such a correspondent. In a otherwise bland publication, Patsy’s contribution most weeks is what makes the paper worth buying. You can get the education and attend all the journalistic courses you like, but none will teach you what Patsy knows - when it comes to writing, put it down as it is.
People identify with those whose thoughts strike a chord – whose experiences fit in with real life and whose use of words trigger an emotion. You can get too much of the John Waters, Vincent Brown type of hyperbole in the nationals. It’s refreshing to have Patsy dissect the Sacred Cows and let us have it - blemishes, warts and all.
The easiest thing when making a judgement on a controversial issue is to take the popular line – you won’t go far wrong - and you’re always safe from any form of criticism. Of late the Times has come in for a barrage of abuse for calling local issues as we see them. ‘Negative’ is a word that has been assigned to us for not agreeing that everything is rosy in the garden - and for speaking out when we think a wrong has been done.
So let us now state clearly our position on a range of local issues that have been exercising the minds of our fellow citizens over recent weeks and lay down clearly how we feel.
On the development front, our opinion is that Bennett’s should be allowed to proceed without hindrance to develop its sites at Drimlonagher and the Mullans. Equally that the Keeney sites at Revlin and Magees should advance without obstruction. The two internal sites ie. Mullans and Magees can shoot it out for the multiple - but all ancillary units should complement each other and create retail variety in a town that badly need it.
Now the mart is a more complex issue. A natural extension to the Magee site, it would obviously be a very valuable asset to Keeney and the Drimarone man has fought a huge battle to gain control of, and then retain, its facilities.

Here is where the paper probably deviates from the popular line. It is our opinion that, after the amount of work, effort, time and money Danny Keeney put into trying to accommodate the mart committee - if a bit more goodwill had been shown to the local developer, a compromise could have been reached that would have suited both sides - we are also not convinced that he should have forfeited his deposit.
The mart site on its own is not of much use to Bennett. To be viable, the company would also need to acquire the Bosco, and possibly enter into negotiations with the Timony family to procure their Milltown Estate.
So with the four sites mentioned, along with Michael Kelly’s on Miller’s Hill and Daniel Gallagher’s at Ardlenagh, there is at least 60 acres around town available for development - not counting the mart, Bosco or Timony sites - surely enough to provide the area with all it needs in retail, residential, commercial and industrial facilities.
To sum up - we feel that no obstacles should be put in the way of Bennett to develop Drimlonagher as a bulky-goods/retail and business park – similarly at the Mullins for his projected multiple and ancillary units. Keeney should go ahead with Revlin – in our opinion as a leisure, recreational and residential site, including hotel, marina, cinema, housing and apartments. His Magee site should proceed as shown at the presentation in the Abbey, and subsequently reproduced in the Times, including retail, housing, arts building, tweed interpretive centre, river walk and bridges.
There is enough room for both developers – and plenty of industrial, retail, commercial and leisure facilities are needed in town - certainly enough to fill their existing sites. The danger for the mart committee lies in Bennett being refused permission at Tullyearl - or if planning is granted for major retail at other locations. This could leave the agri-unit sitting high and dry - with the likelihood of soon having to fork out many thousands of euro to upgrade its facility at Milltown.

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When Michael Leonard recently celebrated his birthday, it was with no ordinary party. A murder mystery night was planned - and pictured are the ‘suspects’ in character and costume for the event. Back: Michael Leonard, Michael Devaney, Josephine Murphy, Paul O’Sullivan, Stephen Carty, Phyl O’Sullivan, Gerry Cunningham. Front: Ann Leonard, Pauline McGroary, John McGroary, Geraldine Carty and Debra Cunningham. Pic: Niamh Leonard

Magee Clothing to cease production in Donegal Town

Workers in tears at shock announcement

It was 11.30am last Friday morning and work was progressing as usual on the Magee Factory floor - well, much as usual - all week the workers had noticed a large level of activity at executive level, with directors almost constantly in meetings. This had led to a certain amount of speculation among staff, and that morning, the last of the week, rumours were spreading like wildfire. Then just half-an-hour before noon, department heads were summoned to a meeting with Factory Manager, Michael Thomas. When they arrived back, the worst was confirmed - the clothing manufacturing sector of the Magee factory was to close with the loss of 60 jobs - and Lynn Temple himself was coming onto the floor at midday to confirm the news. Even though it had been somewhat expected, the shock of verification hit the workforce like a sledge. Stunned silence greeted the word of the supervisors and workers slowly made their way on to the main floor to await the announcement from their chairman.
Promptly at noon Lynn arrived down. He expressed sorrow that this had to happen - he wished things could be different but cost of production was too expensive in this country. He said that the clothing side of the factory would close in early 2007 and more details would be given to the workforce on Monday morning.
Disbelief and shock registered on the faces of the workforce - then the emotion of the moment became too much and many broke down in tears. This was very much a family workplace, parents and grandparents had worked ‘The Factory’ in years gone by - and some of the present staff had over 40 years service. (...continued)

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