Cllr Tom Conaghan (Ind) at the Mullins site in Donegal Town
It has without doubt been one of the most challenging years ever for Donegal.
But even throughout the difficult times in 2020, much has been going on to improve and develop the county.
Cllr Tom Conaghan (Ind) is feeling optimistic, particularly for his hometown, and he is also very proud of how the Donegal Town community has come through the last year.
“I would like to congratulate the business community and the volunteers for how they have come through this,” he told the Donegal Post. “It has not been easy but the town is looking very well and there are a lot of plans in place for the future that will greatly enhance the area.”
One sector that really shows the trajectory of a town is house construction.
“At the moment there are around 225 houses being built or starting soon and more that have planning,” said Cllr Conaghan.
“I am particularly delighted to see work well underway at Tommy and Norah Gallagher’s site at the Mullins. They are starting with the houses for Phase One but there will be a lot of office space and other facilities there too. This is a very exciting development for the area and will be a great place to live - you are within walking distance of everything but you still feel like you are out of town.”
Indeed, the Mullins site is being hailed as a game changer for Donegal Town and its hinterland, with long term plans for more than 70 houses, extensive office space, a digital hub, swimming pool and leisure facilities.
Elsewhere in the town, social housing at Railway Park is almost complete while other housing developments include sites at the Old Laghey Road and Lurganboy.
At present there is a very high demand for houses, with many people looking to rent or buy homes in the wider Donegal Town area.
“I welcome all these housing developments,” said Cllr Conaghan. “There is certainly a lot of demand and there will be even more when the extension of Abbotts is finished and when the new Primary Care Centre opens early next year. I also welcome the long-term jobs that all these things are bringing to the area.”
The councillor wishes to reassure people in the area that he is working closely with Donegal County Council on a number of areas that are close to his heart or that have been brought to his attention.
“I would like to commend the council for the recent work they did on the road at Scoil Aodh Ruadh Agus Nuala,” he said. “There was a big safety concern there and the new road markings will be a big help.
“On the subject of schools, the Abbey Vocational School has received planning permission for plans for an extension so congratulations to them for that and for the great work they and other schools in the area are doing in keeping children and young people safe and continuing their education through Covid-19.”
Cllr Conaghan is also continuing to drive forward plans for a one-way system in Donegal Town.
“I believe that will make a big difference to the flow of traffic in the town and it will also allow for more parking,” he said. “On that note, I welcome the additional parking spaces that were added from behind McGettigan’s and other areas. Increasing parking spaces is an ongoing issue and I am working with council staff and management on that.
“Pay and display money was recently used to help with the Christmas lights in Donegal Town, along with a donation from the Waterbus. This is one example of how parking money is put back into the community.
“ I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in the Christmas lights and the business community for their efforts in having the town looking so festive. It gives people a great lift.
“People have also been asking about the monument being cleaned. There are very specialist repairs to be carried out to the pointing first and that is all part of a plan for the monument.
“I thank the council for the new lights on the Diamond - there is still a bit of work to be done on them - and on the lights at Tir Chonaill Bridge which look great.
“We are also looking to move the bottle bank from its current location to somewhere more suitable. Unfortunately with heavy vehicles turning at the current site it is not great, but we will find a better place for it.”
A major concern in Donegal Town is flooding, and there was disappointment that plans to put flood prevention measures in place along the Eske were not included in OPW funding. Cllr Conaghan wishes to assure people that local councillors are still pushing hard to have that decision reconsidered.
Among Donegal Town’s most notable amenities are the pier and Bank Walk areas on opposite sides of the estuary and inner bay area. Over the years, the pier has been enhanced and improved with the addition of fencing, the building of the landmark tourist office, and the wonderful tourist attraction that is the Waterbus. It is also becoming increasingly popular with watersports enthusiasts, both as individuals and in various clubs. The addition of the loading pontoon by Donegal County Council with support from FLAG is a very welcome addition, as are the new navigation buoys.
Earlier this year, Donegal County Council began a situation analysis of the pier area in conjunction with users of the facilities. Much information has been gathered and consultants will come on board in the new year.
“I am very excited about what is being proposed, especially a certain walkway that I have in mind on the bay and an extension of the Bank Walk. It will be very nice and great for the town if it goes ahead so I hope it will be considered by council. It would consist of a footbridge from the carpark at the pier across to the Bank Walk.
“The plans for the pier area would make it more attractive for tourists and would also accommodate fishermen and the existing clubs and any new groups coming on board. There are a lot of factors to be taken into consideration to develop that area but the council have put a lot of work into doing it properly and I think people will be pleased with what is going to happen over the next few years.
“We have achieved a lot in our town over the last few years and there are exciting times ahead too if we all continue to work together.
“Thank you to council staff and management for all their work.
“I also thank and commend the people of our community for all they have done to look after each other this year in particular.
“Finally, Happy Christmas and New Year to you all. Stay safe and hopefully 2021 will bring good changes for you all.”
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