DONEGAL TIMES

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February 14th 2007

Right decision by the Bord
Now let’s get on with it

The news that there has been no appeal to the Keeney Plans at Magee gave this town the start it required to lead in the new year. Now the way is open for the Drimarone man to realise his vision for the river-side site.
At present architects, town planners, consultants, surveyors, engineers and a host of other experts are putting finishing touches to detailed blueprints for the area, and dealing with the 29 conditions laid down by the Council planners. When all drawings and figures come together, the tendering process can commence. The appointment of main and sub- contractors will see the first physical signs of our new retail and residential complex.
The decision to give Keeney the go-ahead on the site closest to centre-of-town is the correct one. If, as requested in the year 2000, planners had allowed retail developments proceed out at Drumlonagher and Revlin, you could have kissed this town good-bye.
And, as each subsequent planning application was submitted, Bord Pleanala stuck to its guns, adament that development must take place from the inside out.
Six years have passed since the first planning request and, finally, we have got the project that should most benefit the town centre. With bridges, both vehicular and pedestrian, and a board-walk along the river, the old town and new town should merge easily along the most scenic and historic urban route in the country.
The Bord were right to shoot-down Bennett at Mullans. Over and above the traffic nightmare the development would have caused, it was an insult to local intelligence to submit plans that basically showed two large sheds and hundreds of parking spaces on the route into one of the most attractive towns in the island.
Lessons can be learned!
Both developers have spent hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in bids to get their own development first off the ground. But the Bord stood firm. The Council planners have not exactly covered themselves in glory throughout the whole saga. Three of the Bennetts schemes that they passed were rejected by the higher authority, two at Drumlonagher and one at the Mullins - also three of Keeney’s at Revlin, Tullyearl and Tullymore. Questions need to be asked of their ability, training and expertise in accessing large scale developments in the centre and periphery of towns, each of which has its own individual needs in terms of aesthetics, infrastructure and traffic flow. We don’t want to end up with the problems of a Letterkenny or Sligo. The whole set-up in the planning department at Lifford needs to be looked at. If it had been allowed its way the decisions would have led to the destruction of the centre of our town as we know it.
And let us say once again - we don’t need interference from any outside person or body. Let Bundoran politicans work for their town - we have our own elected representatives, even if they haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory so far. The notion of bringing the Chairman of An Bord Pleanala to Donegal to meet with councillors is ridiculous. You can’t have an independent body beholden to local representatives.
Anyway on a positive note – finally we have lift-off. And, as we said in our last issue, the talking is over – now we need action. Work should be started by mid-2007 and let us hope that, in a few short years, the photo montages we displayed in our last issue will have become a reality and that thousands of shoppers and visitors will be thronging to our town to marvel at our new retail complex - and spend their hard-earned money.

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The world may never recover from the harm done

by President George W. Bush

With less than two years left in his presidency, what legacy will my old friend George W Bush leave behind when he vacates office.
World chaos looks like!
Already we have civil wars in Gaza, Lebanon and Iraq, all fermented by the illegal invasion of the latter. Iran and North Korea are under threat from the great US warmonger and half of South America has joined Cuba in adopting socialist policies in revulsion at their northern neighbour’s excesses.
How did all this happen? The Americans are good people - they wish no harm on the populace of the world. Like everywhere else they just want to live their lives, do their work, enjoy their off-time. They wish their neighbours well!
So how come they elected the most stupid, arrogant and paranoid mental case into the highest office of the land.
Not just once but twice!
I don’t know the answer. It would take someone with a deep knowledge of the American psyche to provide the reason. What I do know is that during the reign of George W, the reputation of the U.S. has plunged in the eyes of the world. Respect for the earth’s greatest power is zero and will take a long time to re-establish - if ever.
President Bush, formed a Commission to look into the Iraq war. It recommended a structured withdrawal of US troops. What does Dubya do? He ignores the advice of his self-appointed experts - and decides instead to bolster the fighting forces with 20,000 extra soldiers and marines.
The mighty man totally misunderstands!
His opponents are not just in Baghdad, nor indeed in Iraq. He is not fighting an army - or a country. He is battling an ideology, a belief - one that spans the world. And one, just like the American people, that intended no harm to anyone until old George sent in the troops - thus providing the ideal recruiting ground for the small number of radical zealots that existed before the great leader decided to rip world order apart. Georgie has just under two years left in office and I bet he’s counting the days - so that he can get out and leave somebody else to clean up the mess he’s left behind.

Burns night in Harvey’s Point - head chef Hugh McGee parades the Haggis.

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Is Lough Eske Castle For Sale?
Pat ‘Big Hill’ gives the Times his answer

A strange story about a development that is half-constructed appeared in ‘The Donegal News’ of Monday, January 29th. Under a strong headline ‘€3.5 million asking price for Castle’, it ran, ‘A lake-side Castle has gone on the market with an asking price of €3.5 million.
The partially renovated Lough Eske Castle is situated on 43 acres of mature grounds on the shores of Lough Eske near Donegal Town.
Planning permission has been granted for the construction of a hotel complex consisting of 60 bedrooms, 40 courtyard suites, conference facilities and a health centre. The property is owned by well known Buncranna man Pat (Big Hill) Doherty’.

As we said, a strange story – one of the biggest developers in the country selling his half-constructed piece of property near Donegal Town. This had to be looked into!
So our second string investigative reporter got on his bike (our first stringer was on her day off and not to be disturbed) and headed for Lough Eske. Having located chief gaffer, John Doherty, he put the story from the ‘News’ to him - “I know, I just read it myself a few minutes ago” he replied.
Was he surprised? ‘Very” he answered “but I don’t think there’s any truth in it – why would we be working flat out here if the place was being sold?”
Well why was it in the paper then? “I don’t know I’d say it might be an old advert that some reporter picked up and ran with the story”.
So the ‘Donegal News’ says the Castle site is for sale, a story later picked up by the Letterkenny Post - and the top man on the site says it’s not.
We rang the News and spoke to senior reporter Harry Blake who said it was an “in-house story” and thought it was got from an advert placed on the internet by a Galway auctioneer.
This was getting stranger and stranger! There was only one way to go - right to the top. So through a mutual associate, we traced Pat ‘Big Hill’ to where he was holidaying on the beautiful Caribbean island of Antigua. He seemed a bit annoyed at being contacted so early in the morning (Antigua is a good few hours behind us). When our man asked him if the Lough Eske site was for sale, he replied – “don’t you know everything is for sale, now f--k off ” - and hung up.
By the way Harcourt Developments, of which Pat is top gun has acquired the former headquarters of the Conservative Party in London in a €45 million deal. Fellow directors include Andres Parker Bowles, former husband to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and entertainer Mike Murphy.


The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

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

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