An angry councillor has rounded on Donegal County Council for granting licences casual trading licences to chip van operators from the North operators in Ballyshannon on the June bank holiday weekend.
Cllr. Barry O’Neill has attacked the council for issuing up to 15 licences to ‘fly by night’ chip van operators from the North to operate in the town during the Rory Gallagher Festival. He claims the chip van operators will overcharge customers, take trade from local rate-paying business and leave litter in the town.
The Ballyshannon councillor made the comments at the May meeting of the Donegal electoral area committee where he also claimed unlicensed chip van operators from the North are operating on a regular basis in Bundoran and Rossnowlagh.
Last month the Fine Gael councillor brought a motion before the council asking for the activities of such chip van operators to be curtailed over the bank holiday weekend. He said the county council and gardaí must ensure bylaws in the town are adhered to and casual trading only takes place in designated areas.
He attacked the council for granting so many licences to “jackasses from Northern Ireland in chip vans”.
Each “black market chip van” would take n10,000 each out of the town over the weekend at a time when local restaurants and fast food outlets are struggling to pay their rates. He said chip vans should not be allowed to park on pay and display spaces.
“I am very angry that we have people giving up there time to work in tourism voluntarily and we have these hideous laws,” he said.
He produced a picture of a chip van owner leaving rubbish at the side off the road last year.
“ There staff are from Northern Ireland, there food is from Northern Ireland and they do nothing for the town except leave their rubbish behind,” he said adding that the clean up for the festival last year cost n20,000.
“Donegal County Council should be trying to protect local businesses,” he said. These vans do not contribute to the local economy,” he said. “Fifteen are going to line up on a Main Street and going to take away from the local traders.”
Roisin Mitchell of the council’s planning section said the council has to adhere to legislation in place.
Licenses have been granted on condition the casual traders pitch between 8pm and 9am. She said the festival is a unique event and licenses had to be applied for 30 days in advance.