A new group which has been established in Donegal hopes to establish a correlation between what they say is the high level of cancer in the area and the alleged dumping of illegal waste in the coastal waters which surround the region.
The group was established by Freddie O’Donnell and Aodán Ó’Gallchoir, two young men who wish to provide a service of advice and support for cancer patients in Donegal.
The group, “Break Free from Cancer”, “Scaoil Saor ó Ailse”, was established in Ionad Naomh Pádraig in Dore on Wednesday, July 18th.
Speaking on RTÉ Raidó na Gaeltachta, public relations officer (PRO) for the group, Joe Diver, called for an investigation into the reason for there being such a high number of people in the area affected by cancer.
“There needs to be an investigation into why so many people in this area suffer from cancer. There are very few families in the three parishes that were not affected by cancer in some manner. I had an appointment with a doctor from St. Luke’s around two weeks ago. He told me that since he began working in Letterkenny two years ago, the number of people affected by cancer had increased by 300 per cent. That is a huge increase in a short period of time,” he said.
Mr Diver said that Dr Paddy Delap, who worked in the area as a general practitioner during his lifetime, was of the opinion that waste dumped off the coast was affecting the health of people in the area.
Due to the heightened interest in the possibility of an investigation by the group, the story that a diver once revealed on local radio has again resurfaced.
The diver broke his silence on Raidó na Gaeltachta, when he told of a recreational pursuit which resulted in his coming across a large area of the sea bed littered with large black drums with hazardous signage on them, in the waters off Tory island.
He said: “We were diving outside of Tory island looking for shipwrecks. We dived down 40 to 45 metres and we came across black drums with green stuff growing on them. They covered a large area -- I would say that there were a few thousand of them. It was like a boat went out and dumped them, they were heaped in a hill-like structure. They had skull and crossbones on them,” he said.
He and his friend made the find over two decades ago. Neither of them broke their silence until recent years, and they have not revisited the site which contained the hazardous drums since.
The diver said that he was of the opinion that the drums would have since disintegrated and their hazardous material dissolved into the ocean miles from the Gaeltacht coast would have a detrimental effect on people’s health.
The group will provide services to those who suffer from cancer in the area by providing information nights, and support by providing free travel for patients to their appointments throughout the country. They are currently compiling a list of known cancer survivors who will then be given the opportunity of offering counsel for those affected with the same cancer they had.
The group will hold an information night on September 5th at about 8pm. Any cancer patients who wish to avail of the group’s services, and any survivors who wish to be on the list may contact Aodán Ó’Gallchoir at 083 3711450.
The group are also very eager to learn of any alleged illegal dumping off the Donegal coast.