Fury over Dail fire stations U-turn

Matt Britton

Reporter:

Matt Britton

There was a feeling of anger, disappointment and utter confusion in South Donegal as it emerged this week that the Government were once again considering the amalgamation of the Bundoran and Ballyshannon fire stations.

There was a feeling of anger, disappointment and utter confusion in South Donegal as it emerged this week that the Government were once again considering the amalgamation of the Bundoran and Ballyshannon fire stations.

Earlier this week Deputy Pearse Doherty issued a copy of statement in response to a question he submitted to the Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan TD regarding the current position of the fire stations in Ballyshannon and Bundoran which stated that all options including the amalgamation option, will need to be considered, in relation to the upgrading of facilities at Ballyshannon and Bundoran fire stations.

Doherty said, “For many years the communities of Bundoran and Ballyshannon have been campaigning to have their existing fire stations to be upgraded so that they would be fit for purpose.

“A commitment was given by the previous government in 2009 that after meetings at the highest levels new fire stations would be built in both towns.

Speaking to this newspaper yesterday morning Cllr. Barry O’Neill has stated categorically that the fire stations will not be amalgamated.

He said, “I have spoken to Minister Hogan in the last 24 hours and he has confirmed that the stations will remain as they are until funding is available to upgrade the services. “The previous Government have left us in a strait jacket - the funding is simply not there at the moment for new fire stations. “I am not interested in making false promises - when the funding becomes available upgrading will take place but I would not anticipate this to happen for at least two years. “This Government is in the business of stabilising the economy that has been left in shreds by the previous Government.” In response to the ongoing confusion Pearse Doherty stated that he would now put another question to the Minister on the issue to ensure that the amalgamation does not take place. However, Doherty told this newspaper that he struggled to understand how the Minister could tell him in a Dail reply that amalgamation was now an option and then less than 24 hours later tell one of his own party members it wasn’t. “It is difficult to square that. I believe that the answer I have received in the written Dail reply is correct and that all options including amalgamation are being considered by the Minister and this has been confirmed in a statement sent to Ocean FM.” A spokesperson for Donegal Co. Council confirmed that it understands that all capital projects are under review and that they are working in conjunction with the Department.