The row in relation to an apparent u-turn on the provision of two fire stations for Bundoran and Ballyshannon continues to take a series of twists and turns with Ballyshannon Fine Gael councillor Barry O’Neill claiming that Minister for Environment Phil Hogan has now told him there will be no amalgamated station for the two towns.
However, this flies in the face of what Mr Hogan stated in a written reply to Sinn Fein Deputy Pearse Doherty - that an amalgamation was on the table.
In that reply Minister Hogan told Deputy Doherty that “All options in relation to the upgrading of facilities at Ballyshannon and Bundoran fire stations, including the amalgamation option, will need to be considered as part of a planned review.”
But this morning (Wednesday), Cllr. Barry O’Neill was adamant that nothing had changed and there would be no amalgamation.
Deputy Pearse Doherty said he took the view that the written reply from the Minister has “a status” beyond anything that may be said in government quarters to appease various people.
The Sinn Fein TD said: “It is not acceptable to say the government is forced into changing plans because they do not have the finances. There are options and what is now proposed, after eleven years with another two year delay on the cards, is not acceptable to the people of Bundoran and Ballyshannon.”
Deputy Doherty added 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,” he told the Donegal Democrat.
The key part of Minister Hogan’s written reply stated: “In common with other capital programmes, my Department has commenced a Capital Expenditure Review of the fire services capital programme. Given the revenue cost overheads associated with each fire station, in partnership with Donegal County Council, all options in relation to the upgrading of facilities at Ballyshannon and Bundoran fire stations, including the amalgamation option, will need to be considered as part of this Review.
“Further investment in the fire service in Ballyshannon and Bundoran will be considered within the current constraints on the fire services capital programme and will have regard to the Capital Expenditure Review, the fire authority’s priorities, the extent of previous investment, the spread of existing facilities and the totality of demands from fire authorities countrywide.”