DONEGAL TIMES

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September 12th 2007

Cutting the tape to open ‘Solace’, the new drop-in Cancer Centre behind St. Joseph’s Avenue - Kathleen Williamson, Noreen McGroary, Patricia Ward, Moira O’Sullivan, Anne Rose and Kay Gallagher. Pic: Michael Devaney

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Ocean FM figures heading south at an alarming rate
The percentage for listenership of Ocean FM continues to plummet at an alarming rate. From a JNLR weekday reach figure of 64% at the end of North West Radio’s reign, it has plunged to 47%, down 3% on the last survey and a whopping 17% during the watch of the present directors. The weekday share figure is just as bad. While Highland sits at the top of the pile with 64.2%, Ocean languishes in 12th position (out of 16) with 33.3% - indeed if it lost that 0.3, it would drop two positions to 14th - just two off the tail-ender.
Ocean is all over the place. It doesn’t seem to know what audience it is targeting in the music sphere - and its news-casts are pathetic. Journalists are working without the back-up that would enable them to get out and cover stories. This leaves them repeating the same old reports from morning to night - many of them nothing to do with the region they are supposed to cover. All the controversies that have convulsed this area over the past four years have barely been touched. Anything that happens after 6pm, or at weekends, rarely feature in Ocean’s news schedule. Paddy Clancy’s Ocean Current is diluted by trying to cover the whole region and stuffing too many guests into a time frame that is probably no longer than 40 minutes. And why does the Creevy man insist on an analysing the national papers when he has at least 20 local rags, from three counties, to work from.
Ocean is going nowhere unless it completely revamps. Its owners don’t seem to know what segment of the populace it is trying to attract - and its programming is disjointed and fragmented.
What time does the early show start? - say 7am. This should ease the listener gently into the day, the presenters patter low-key and comforting. I usually tune in around 7.45am and what I hear is anything but the smooth music and intros needed at this time of the morning.
The Gerry Farry show is innocuous. Obviously a gentleman, Gerry seems incapable of asking the hard question and the programme comes across as bland and boring. All the interruptions for weather, advertisements, bingo, death announcements, Margaret Carr/Flynn, jobs notices and, again, the national papers, don’t help. Three hours is too long for this show - it needs to be chopped by a third and tightened-up to make it slicker and more interesting to the listener. Again, covering the whole region dilute the programme’s impact - what is interesting to Sligo and Leitrim has no relevance to Donegal.
From 12 noon - 2pm, Paul Seanlon’s music has no direction - a country and western song could be followed by hard rock - trying to please everybody ends up pleasing nobody.

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Bennett objects to proposed Retail Park at Revlin

Bennett Developments Limited have lodged a scathing objection with Donegal County Council against a planning application by Dublin based Tayrona Limited for the erection of a Retail Park on a site at Revlin on the Killybegs side of Donegal Town. It is believed to be the first time that Bennett has objected to a planning application in the country and represents a very significant change of direction for the company which has seen application after application in this area turned down by An Bord Pleanala.
Bennett’s Development Director Mr John White is likely to come under local criticism for lodging the latest objection. As apparent spokesperson for the group, he has previously lambasted others who have objected to Bennett’s proposals stating that ‘those who are suffering most from the delays caused by these objections are the people of Donegal Town and those looking for new jobs.’
The application submitted by Tayrona Limited, on the site at Revlin which is owned by the Keeney Construction consortium, proposes the erection of a Retail Park anchored by a DIY Retail Store, garden centre, three retail warehouse units and car parking facilities for 255 cars. It had promised the creation of 85 new jobs for the town. Planning permission already exists on an adjacent part of the site for the erection of a luxury hotel and office development.
The objection, which has been submitted by Dublin based McGill Planning on behalf of Bennett, opens yet another chapter in the long running feud and bitter rivalry between the Westmeath company and Keeney Construction Limited.
The seventeen page objection letter argues that Tayrona Limited did not have the required consent to submit the application from the site owners; the proposal does not comply with planning policy; it is not an appropriate location for retail development in Donegal Town; in conjunction with the hotel and office developments on the site it would create a competing commercial centre to Donegal Town; and that the development would adversely impact on the status of Donegal Bay as a Candidate Special Area of Conservation (CSAC).
The objection letter also states that Bennett will be submitting an application for an 8,000 sq metre retail park on their site at the Mullans in a few weeks time and argues that this is a more appropriate location for this type of development than the Tayrona site at Revlin. This application at Mullins will be for a considerably smaller retail park than the massive one that had been proposed and ultimately refused by An Bord Pleanala at Drumlonagher a few years ago.
Back then agents argued on behalf of Bennetts that the Drumlonagher site was more appropriate for a Retail Park than the site at the Mullans and that a smaller facility could lead to a requirement for another retail park in the town, increasing speculation that an application could be submitted for a second retail park at Drumlonagher. However with Bennett’s agents arguing that Tayrona’s proposals would create a competing commercial centre to Donegal Town, it is difficult to see how they could ever now justify such a scheme on the Drumlonagher site which lies further from the Diamond that the Revlin site.
As well as objecting to Tayrona’s application at Revlin, the agents representing Bennett have also criticised previous developments approved by the County Council in the town describing the office and warehouse units beside the NCT centre on the Killybegs Road ‘as contrary to proper and sustainable planning policy,’
Bennett’s comments could also be frowned upon by some of the County Councillors who had supported the sale of Council owned land at Drumlonagher to the Mullingar and Dublin based company at what some would see as a knock-down price in 2004, and furthermore had supported the hugely controversial rezoning of land in the town in Bennett’s favour against the recommendation of the Council’s Planning Department.
Comments made in the objection letter about the inappropriate location of Tayrona’s site outside the town boundary ‘created by the by-pass’ will also infuriate and strike fear amongst all those who own land in similar locations in the town. The question is just how far Bennett is prepared to go in objecting to other developments in their efforts to gain some return from their not insignificant investments in the area or whether they will confine their objections to proposals involving, or as in this case linked with, their bitter rivals Keeney Construction Limited.
The Donegal Times contacted local councillor Jonathan Kennedy, town Mayor, Ernan McGettigan and Christopher Bennett for comment.

Mr McGettigan, speaking from his sick bed, said, as a resident, he had signed a petition for Revlin to go ahead some years ago. When questioned as to why he hadn’t been on the radio to discuss this latest objection, he replied “people are tired listening to me”. Despite a message left on his voice mail, Cllr Kennedy didn’t return our call, nor did Mr Bennett our email!
The Times also contacted the office of Junior Minister Pat the Cope Gallagher for his reaction. He also failed to respond!
The Bennett objection is one of four objection letters that have been lodged with the Council against the proposed development. Others have been lodged by C Graham, Doonan, Donegal Town; Patrick Conway, Carrickmore, County Tyrone; and JA Barry, Aughnacliffe, County Longford. These raised concerns about the distance of the site from the town centre, the impact on views and nature conservation; and the increase in traffic which will result from the proposed development.
The County Council could make a decision on Tayrona’s application on or before 25th September 2007 but, with Bennetts now claiming that they will be submitting a rival application on their site at the Mullans, it will be interesting to see how quickly they will determine the application on the Revlin site.


The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

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

e-mail: mail@donegaltimes.com


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