A new “focus group” for job creation is to be established in Ardara following a public meeting last Friday night.
Just over 80 people attended the function in the Nesbitt Arms Hotel in an event chaired by Stephen McCahill.
He started by explaining this was a follow up meeting to one that took place prior to the general election earlier this year when a large number of job losses were announced at Gallaghers Bakery.
A letter from Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs, Dinny McGinley TD, was read out by Cllr Terence Slowey, stating he was unable to attend due to a Government obligation but stated he had been working with Udaras Na Gaeltachta on the matter and facilitated meetings between the bakery owners and other state agencies on the matter and he would agreed to meet with a deposition with them in the future.
The gathering heard that a meeting should also be sought with a senior planner form Donegal County Council and a senior engineer from the National Roads Authority to improving access problems in the area.
During the course of the event the focus shifted to discussing other sources of job creation and a number of speakers stated one area would be to ensure that labour and services used in all state contracts in the area was local.
Deputy Pearse Doherty said such an agreement for large contracts in the North are in place and he would support these measures and firms in areas like Donegal needed a “level playing field” to be able to compete with large companies who apply for such tenders.
Stephen McCahill agreed saying he felt it was important to “look after our own”.
Pat the Cope Gallagher MEP stated the “principle was right” and said that in some cases the lowest tender for State jobs were not always the best compared the ones that “tick all the boxes”.
Retired economist, Terry Monaghan, who identified himself as “an outsider” outlined that he felt the subject of the meeting was “like therapy” and he urged the local community to use a more structured approach to tackling the problems identified.
He said by working in smaller groups would help focus on the positives that Ardara had to offer. He said this approach would have to “be honest” and not use the “blame somebody else” attitude.
One of the areas he identified was the towns position as a heritage town and he offered to assist any such focus groups formed with his experience humorously adding they would be able to afford his fee of “zero”. He left before the meeting concluded.
A speaker from the floor stated that the town has a good reputation as the “capital of festivals” and asked why neither the IDA or Failte Ireland had attended the meeting.
A number of speakers also voiced their view that tourism was one of the main areas they could help develop employment.
Another stated the local agriculture sector was an area for growth and the harbour of Killybegs could serve as a base for wind turbine production, as the components could shipped into the area and the finished product shipped out of the port all around the world.
Other areas mooted were Call Centres and language schools.
Local photographer, John McConnell, said is was vital to “maintain the jobs we have” and suggested they launch a “shop local” campaign to support the retail sector.
The meeting Chairman said sought names of those interested in forming a focus group and up to ten volunteers came forward as the event came to a close.