DONEGAL TIMES

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February 28th 2007

Twenty years in the Dail - Mary, her mother Marian and party stalwart Cathal Campbell celebrate in the Bluestack Centre

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Our Leaders List (opinion)

Donegal Town needs more than new developments. From its centre out lie a series of neglected and unfinished projects that our leaders should be fighting to have rectified and completed.
The most conspicuous of these is on the pier site where work, that started more than three years ago, is still ongoing. This whole river and bay area is our greatest natural asset. The Eske has already been disfigured by ugly manhole structures. The Council’s engineers who passed these should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Future generations will debate the gross stupidity of the people who allowed these monstrosities to be constructed. Now we have a dreadful pumping station rising metres above the far pier, disfiguring the view of bay and islands and talk of an ESB sub-station sunk into the bank beside the Glebe cemetery. Let’s hope that the plans for the cosmetic makeover of the Abbey walk and construction of a new hospitality centre will turn out better than work done to date. By the way, did Council bosses take up Roci Allen’s offer of extending his brief to ensure that all works in this area complement each other?
Moving up towards the town centre – the Diamond needs a revamp. The pedestrianised area has served the town well and provided our citizens and visitors with a top class public amenity. But it needs an up-lift! It is cold and clinical and requires cosmetics – colour, greenery and maybe a water feature should be added to make it attractive on top of being a first class utility. Also those ugly ESB transformers must be removed – the monument’s damaged stonework repaired - and the lettering revamped. It would also be no harm if the railing around this feature were replaced to save it from further damage.
Staying on the Diamond, there should be some Chamber initiative to syncronise frontage paint jobs and signage. For such a great setting, some of the exterior décor is way out. It’s funny how, further down the west coast, shop owners etc. seem to instinctively know how to create an inviting atmospheric themed effect, each building complementing the next. Up here, we seem to have no clue, we change traditional fronts to modern, and visa-versa, slap on the paint even if it clashes with its neighbours - and use totally inappropriate signage. It would be no harm if the Chamber got a hold of someone with knowledge of town planning and got a list of recommendations laid now. Then it would be up to the town traders as to whether or not they want to follow them.
Once and for all, it should be determined who owns the site behind the castle - and the Council negotiate to buy it. They lifted over €4million out of this town from the sale of the land on Millers Hill. This small area has the potential to be a great little town park, surrounded by river and castle. With a bit of planning, it could join with the projected new retail complex at Magee, via a river walk, which, in the other direction, could go under the bridge to join the road behind the hotels and then travel all the way to the Old Abbey.
What is going to happen to the old fire station? With up to 1,000 parking spaces to be built a few hundred metres away across the river, this area could be put to better use. I think the whole site up to the chapel perimeter should be walled off from the road and handed over to Aodh Rua agus Nuala for a play area. This school badly lacks outdoor recreational facilities - and this could help a bit. In my opinion, instead of the money pumped into the last extension, the two schools should have been moved to a large green field site near town, with plenty of room for extension and play.
Our bridges need to be looked at. The iron one is badly eroded and requires maintenance. The stone bridge over the Eske needs to be widened, possibly by putting the pavement to the river side of the wall.
An Post should be written to and asked to do a job on the post-office in town. To have such an ugly building in close proximity to the castle is a disgrace. Possibly inside it is laid out well enough - but the exterior is terrible. Any junior draughtsman should be able to draw up plans that would camouflage this offensive piece of retrograde architecture and bring it into keeping with its surroundings.
And talking of Tirconaill Street, I’m glad to see that planners have insisted that the last house in the terrace beside the Post Office fits in with the style of the others. I similarly hope that when building on the site of Gerry Stewart’s old house commences, it will merge sweetly into the only perfect street left in town.
The roofing of the Manor House of the Castle must be fought for. If completed, a Bunratty type banquet operation could take place within its historic walls, drawing visitors from all over. Also the Railway Restoration Society should be supported in its efforts to lay a mile of track out to Drimlonagher.
A country on which the sun doesn’t always shine needs these kind of indoor entertainments as it does a cinema, a centre for performing arts and a museum honouring the memories of the O’Donnell clan and the Four Masters.
We are only guardians of this town for the generations to come. As I have said many times, development is to be welcomed but it needs to be well planned, properly sited - and structured. As well as the projects listed, there are others needed to maintain and uplift our patch, so that we can hand it over to our children and grandchildren in better shape than we found it. This is our watch – let us not disappoint future generations in the way we handle it!

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McGinley rides in to save the Day!
‘The Party’s destiny is in our own hands’ says O’Neill

MARGARET GALLAGHER
Deputy Dinny McGinley will definitely run as a Fine Gael candidate in May’s general election. At a press conference in Ballybofey yesterday evening, the Gweedore TD confirmed that he will be the sole contender leading his party’s challenge in the Donegal South constituency.
The long saga of ‘will he, won’t he’ stems from Dinny’s decision, prior to the Fine Gael convention in Glenties in 2006, to announce his retirement.
Having represented Fine Gael in this constituency for nearly a quarter of a century, on Wednesday 7th June 2006 Dinny announced that he was leaving national politics for personal reasons. He took to the podium that night, to a standing ovation, with one message - stand together ‘There is one golden rule in politics - united we stand, divided we fall’ he told the troops (let’s hope these words don’t come back to haunt the party).
At that convention, Cllr Terence Slowey was selected, with another candidate to be added at a later date. Since then, negotiations and meetings have been taking place, with senior executives of the party approaching a number of individuals such as hotelier Jim White, Cllr Barry O”Neill, and according to himself, butcher Ernan McGettigan, to run as a second candidate. Mr White declined, Cllr O’Neill accepted, and the party denied contacting Mr McGettigan. However, when a recent internal poll showed support for Cllr Terence Slowey at just 7%, party leader Enda Kenny and his mentors had some serious decisions to make. This poll confirmed what was known on the ground, that Slowey would struggle to retain the Fine Gael seat against Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty.
The Fine Gael leader and other senior party figures held a number of meetings with Dinny, and, when the Times contacted the Gweedore man on Monday evening at 4.15pm. to seek an update, he said “it is a little premature, things are at a delicate stage - and the next 12 hours are crucial.”
However, as is now known, Dinny will be a candidate in the 2007 general election after being ratified in Jackson’s Hotel, Ballybofey, yesterday. On the night, Cllr Terence Slowey withdrew from the campaign and the Fine Gael party will run with a single candidate, Deputy Dinny McGinley .
In withdrawing his name Cllr Slowey said “I wish to make it very clear that this decision is mine, and mine alone, and motivated by my desire to see Fine Gael return to government after the forthcoming general election”.
Deputy McGinley told the Times his reason for reconsidering “I have given this decision a lot of thought and, in view of the fact that the situation has changed and because I was approached by top executives of Fine Gael, and also by members of my party, I have reconsidered and decided to run in this election. I have a responsibility to my constituency to defend and retain the seat that the party has held for so many years” Dinny said.
He continued “There is a likelihood of a change of government and Fine Gael will be in the new government. It is very important that such a government would have a representative in Donegal south west. There are many major problems to be addressed in the next government – we have lost 12,000 jobs in this county in the last 7/8 years - that is four times the national average. Our health services is in a shambles and cancer services need to be improved. The fishing industry is in crisis and agriculture is experiencing its own difficulties. I would see it as my job, if elected, to address these problems.”
Talking to the Times, Barry O’Neill said “the Party’s destiny is in our own hands and the party had to make the right decision - I will be supporting Dinny 110%.”

With Cllr Slowey have being democratically elected at convention and already started his election campaign, surely party leaders must have made a promise to the Ardara man - is he going to be steered into the Senate - or has this been promised to somebody else!
Time will tell, but there is one thing for sure, let it be Fianna Fail or Fine Gael to lead after the next general election, this constituency will have its own minister, if Dinny manages to salvage a seat out of the maelstrom that is Donegal Southwest politics.


The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

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

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