Arctic weather wreaks havoc on economy

Rumours of its imminent demise proved totally unfounded yesterday afternoon as the snow returned with a vengeance rendering some towns and villages in the county almost totally impassable.

Rumours of its imminent demise proved totally unfounded yesterday afternoon as the snow returned with a vengeance rendering some towns and villages in the county almost totally impassable.

Over the weekend the Arctic conditions wreaked havoc on businesses throughout the county as regular broadcasts on both national and local media warned motorists not to travel unless absolutely necessary and even issued warnings to pedestrians to exercise extreme care.

Donegal Co. Council did a superb job in keeping the main roads open but were fighting a constant battle as the melting snows quickly turned to black ice.

Side roads and estates in the main towns unfortunately could not be treated making it difficult for residents to get out and about.

Throughout the south and west of the county on Saturday morning most towns were devoid of any commercial activity with car parks conspicuous because of the absence of vehicles.

By mid - afternoon, most towns experienced a flurry of activity as shoppers took advantage of the temporary thaw but once nightfall arrived, the streets of most towns in the county lay empty.

Pubs, restaurants and entertainment venues were hit particularly bad with functions cancelled and numbers depleted.

Mike Denver one of the most popular entertainers in the county would normally attract up to 700/800 revellers but according to a spokesperson for the Allingham in Bundoran only 150 people made it there last Saturday. Most publicans and venue owners throughout the county are reporting similar stories.

A trader in Donegal Town told this newspaper yesterday, "It is the same

story everywhere - we were worried about cross border trading but that's not a factor any more.

"Derry was at a standstill today; no taxis, buses or snowploughs - many

of the stores and centres closed early to let their staff home safely."

He added: "A similar situation exists in Sligo and Letterkenny - if we do get a break, there will be a tremendous surge but I don't think it can possibly make up now for lost sales.

"People just cannot get out and the lead up time to Christmas is getting shorter. If there is no early improvement I can see many businesses not opening their doors again after Christmas.

"The combination of weather, cross-border shopping and recession is really the final nail in the coffin.

"When you hear about the snow ploughs and gritters sliding off the roads you realise there is a problem."