The people of Creeslough and surrounding communities rallied around local businessman Danny Lafferty and his family at a public meeting on Monday, with 500 people filling the Massinass hall and as many more gathered outside while the meeting went on.
The meeting was called in response to last week’s announcement that several well-known Creeslough businesses owned by Mr. Lafferty -- two shops, a pub and a filling station -- had gone into examinership. Mr. Lafferty said last week he had 100 days to prove the businesses are viable operations.
At Monday’s meeting, speakers urged people to shop locally. Noel McGinley, the businessman and former county councillor who chaired the meeting, also said a small committee made up of representatives of community groups would be formed to liaise with creditors and examiners.
In his opening remarks, Mr. McGinley spoke of the terrible impact the loss of the businesses and their 40 jobs would have on the village. On a personal level, he said another question being asked was this: “What will the place be like without Lafferty’s?”
Later in the meeting, a woman in the audience received sustained applause when she said, “People must remember Danny Lafferty was very good to people.”
Pearse Doherty, Sinn Féin TD for Donegal South West, and Fianna Fáil representatives Sen. Brian Ó Domhnaill; Pat “the Cope” Gallagher, MEP; and Cllrs. David Alcorn and Seamus Ó Domhnaill also addressed the meeting, pledging their support. They also raised the issue of other services that have been taking hits in rural communities, from Garda resources, to post offices, to schools.
“This is about the future of rural Ireland,” Deputy Doherty said, adding, “Creeslough has struck the first blow.”
Mr. Lafferty told the crowded hall that he was very humbled by the turnout. “I’m not going down without a fight and I want you to know that,” he said. When he finished speaking, he received a standing ovation.
See Thursday’s Donegal Democrat for more.