28 Sept 2022

Constituency boundary still remains a major issue
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Majority call for the revision of constituency

The  villages of Bridgetown and nearby Ballintra are two of the rural areas that straddle the constituency borders between Donegal and the adjoining Sligo/Leitrim electoral area.
  The Democrat visited this area this week to gauge the feelings of the residents in the area and found that there was a great amount of anger, abandonment and confusion which is resulting in a sense of apathy in relation to Saturday's general election.
 This area also includes the more urban areas of Ballyshannon and Bundoran who also share this view, feeling that they have been robbed of their natural identity and representation.
Philomena Sweeney lives in the picturesque village of Bridgetown directly overlooking the bridge which signals the dividing line between the constituencies.
 A lone poster of Sinn Féin candidate Martin Kenny towers over the bridge signalling the fact that you have now crossed the border into Sligo/Leitrim.
 Philomena said: ”This is one of the most ridiculous situations ever. I am a proud Donegal woman and I value my vote. This weekend we were to go to Dublin but cancelled it when the election was called.
 “I will confess that I simply do not know any of the candidates and even worse, they do not know us, or our issues.
“One candidate who did call apologised for not knowing too much about the area. We are now the forgotten part of   “forgotten Ireland”.
 Further down the road on the banks of the river, Laura Hughes and her daughter Millie  shared a similar viewpoint.
 She said, “The situation is absolutely outrageous and to be honest there is very little interest in this area.
 “After the last election we were assured that this debacle would be revised but nothing has happened since. We have been left without a voice - how can you expect a person from Roscommon or the far end of Sligo to be familiar with the problems  in rural Donegal.
 “I have leaflets being dropped through the letterbox every day. I would consider myself politically astute but I simply don't really know any of the candidates.
 “This is Donegal and Donegal should be returned to Donegal.”
In the middle of Ballintra, Stephen Anderson is the genial host in the Bay Bush Bar and would be perceived by many as “Mr. Ballintra”.
A disgruntled Stephen said: “ There is a saying that all politics is local and I firmly adhere to this principle but we have been robbed of any type of local representation.
 “I have always voted local irrespective of party loyalties. I like to think that my vote will count and make a difference to our own local area.
 “Regrettably, just like the last time, we have been abandoned and left to paddle our own canoe.
“I don't really blame the politicians - many of them are actually embarrassed at their lack of knowledge of the area. The commission will have to revise the whole situation - there is a total lack of interest in the area. Donegal is Donegal and should not be divided.”
 Back in Bridgetown, Linda Doherty runs the successful “Smarty Pants”  Childcare.  
 She now lives in Lough Eske and has her vote in Donegal but spoke of her annoyance at the situation.
 “Quite honestly we have a group of strangers coming looking for our votes - they don't know us and we don't know them. They have no grasp of the reality in a rural area like this - we have suffered from severe flooding, have a problematic sewage system, no street lights and nobody to turn to.  
“I think when it comes to working for South Donegal, with the best will in the world,  there is very little that they can bring to the table.
“On a broader scale we have major carer sector and we will be making our voices heard  Dáil Eireann on Friday.”

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