Anger at closure of popular Harbour Stores in Killybegs

There’s going to be yet another vacant premises in Killybegs shortly, this time right on the seafront.

There’s going to be yet another vacant premises in Killybegs shortly, this time right on the seafront.

Harbour Stores, which has supplied locals and visitors with outdoor clothing, fishing gear, wet suits, surf boards, nautical supplies and much more for the last sixteen years, is closing its doors for good.

Owner John Craig told the Donegal Democrat: “Within the last two years, the business has gone from providing a good livelihood to being a rock around my neck.

“The rent increase hasn’t helped either. It’s just not sustainable. The building is owned by a government department - Agriculture, Fisheries and Food - but instead of making it easier for businesses to continue, they have an upwards only rent review policy.

“Killybegs is a dead town now, because of the recession. There’s no employment in fishing any more either, because the season is only five months and it’s all done by equipment.

“I had hoped that this business would provide future employment for some of my five children but that’s not going to happen now.

“If I were ten years younger, I would have emigrated a year ago. There’s nothing here any more.”

John Shine, of the Fishing for Jobs campaign, had plans to open a seafood bar in the upper floor of the building.

“This time last year, we had full planning permission secured from Donegal County Council, bank finance in place. We sent two members of staff to the UK on a training course and we bought equipment to furnish the seafood bar/

“We were all ready to roll but our landord, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, refused to give us either an extension on the lease to make it bankable or to reduce the rent.

“I saw in this week’s papers that Nama gave rent reductions to 113 of 114 tenants who asked for it. So, obviously, NAMA know what’s going on.

“There would be four full-time jobs in the Harbour Stores building, and it would have been a showcase for Donegal seafood.

“Now those jobs are gone and it’s just another vacant building.”