Fianna Fáil Cllr. Martin McDermott said Fáilte Ireland must be prepared to invest in Malin Head.
“Put your money where your mouth is - that’s my point,” Cllr. McDermott said. “You can’t keep on using Malin Head as a big selling point for the Wild Atlantic Way and not be prepared to put money into it.”
The Inishowen-based councillor said he only learned last week that Fáilte Ireland will not fund construction of toilets and parking at Malin until Donegal County Council submits a broader plan for improvements to the area. More than a year ago the council submitted an application to Fáilte Ireland for toilets and parking, and earlier this year council granted planning permission for the work.
The toilets and car and bus parking were the second phase of improvements for Malin. In June, council Cathaoirleach, Cllr. Ciaran Brogan, officially opened the first phase of improvements, which included passing places along the narrow roads leading to the headland, cliff-top trails, a viewing area with telescopes, and information panels. The first phase was supported by the council and the Loughs Agency.
In a statement issued last week, Fáilte Ireland said they were fully committed to development and enhancement of the visitor experience at Malin Head.
However, the authority also said, “Toilets and car parking will be considered as part of the work but we need a wider vision and solution for the site if Malin Head and the Wild Atlantic Way are to generate the extra visitors, revenue and jobs for Donegal that we believe it can.”
They said, “Therefore, any development works at the site must also enhance the visitor experience at the location and allow for better visitor flow, as well as ensure the protection of the natural environment there.” Fáilte Ireland said they could provide technical assistance, but said timing of the work, “depends on how long it takes the council to commission the design of the proposed works and to carry out the associated environmental assessments”.
Cllr. McDermott said Fáilte Ireland should have raised these issues when the application was submitted last year.
“Malin being the most northerly point in Ireland and no investment, the question has to be asked as to why,” Cllr. McDermott said. He said the issue was bigger than Malin, one that involved the wider Inishowen and county area.
“People have to go through Donegal to get to Malin Head and that is what this is about, bringing people to spend money in Donegal and to spend money in Inishowen,” Cllr. McDermott said. He said he would certainly welcome funding for a larger scheme.
“I welcome that with open arms, but that’s way down the line,” he said.
Cllr. McDermott said, “It’s easy to kick things down the road.”