Donegal traders hope to salvage Christmas

Traders across Donegal are hoping to recover what they can in the remaining days before Christmas after what has been a miserable weekend.

Traders across Donegal are hoping to recover what they can in the remaining days before Christmas after what has been a miserable weekend.

Traffic was moving, if slowly, around the county yesterday but traders everywhere suffered as many shoppers were unable to make it out over the weekend.

The army has been called in to help clear town centres thoughout the county to help businesses and shoppers make the most of the remaining days before Christmas.

Calls have been made by former Bishop of Derry Edward Daly, speaking at the Donegal Hospice Mass on Sunday, as well as local politicians for people to support local businesses as they face the added crisis of severe weather in the middle of the recession.

In Letterkenny, the chamber of commerce reported sales on Friday were down 50 per cent on the same time last year as shoppers did not venture out. There was a rise in trade on Saturday and by Sunday the town's retail parks were reported to be quite busy.

CEO of the Chamber, Toni Forrester, said there had been a bit of a recovery by Sunday as shoppers strived to make it out ahead of what is forecast to be another week of severe weather. She blamed the National Roads Authority for failing to ensure adequate supplies of salt were available to ensure people could travel.

"There was a pick up on Saturday but not to the extent that we would want the week before Christmas. We are still not happy that the response has been right from the NRA.

"Donegal seems to be out of sight, out of mind. They have not adequately responded to it. It is severe weather and we are not expecting pure black tar but we would liked to have seen it better than this."

Mayor of Letterkenny Cllr. Tadhg Culbert said trade had been doing very well until the second spell of bad weather hit last week. "This new bout of weather is a huge blow. It is a kick in the teeth. This is a time when Letterkenny was well-equipped to compete with any of the shops in the North on prices. It is sad that we didn't get a chance to prove ourselves because of the weather.

"We had the product to sell and we have not been able to sell it because of the weather. People are not getting into Letterkenny. If there had been a level-playing field Letterkenny would have reaped the rewards."

See page 31 for further coverage.