Councillor and former mayor support Farmers’ Market

A former Mayor of Donegal town and a Bundoran Town Councillor have come out in support of Donegal Town Food and Craft Market.

A former Mayor of Donegal town and a Bundoran Town Councillor have come out in support of Donegal Town Food and Craft Market.

Ernan McGettigan is a former mayor who was also also chairman of the town’s Chamber of Commerce when the market was set up. He’s currently the Chamber’s vice-chair. He says that, whatever issues people might have, the can be ironed out through consultation.

Bundoran Town Councillor Mick McMahon said he wished to express his support as a pubicly-elected member of Sinn Fein.

Mr McGettigan told the Donegal Democrat: “There’s this argument that farmers markets only entail food and that’s not true. There is a craft element to all the farmers’ markets in Ireland. There will be people with different opinion as to whether their busines suffers. I can only say from my own experience that, even when there was a butcher there, our business went up on market days.”

He said the idea that the market should pay rates is nonsense but agreed that regulation is neeed.

“The Diamond is a non-rateable area for a start. We have been trying to get the market regulated not by introducing a catch-all casual trading bye-law which would allow all traders in. No one wants to see casual trading on the Diamond.

“The market is different. An Bord Bia and even the Taoiseach have endorsed the market. It’s one of those events that adds a little bit of quality to the town.

“Surely to God there is a method of regulating, with casual trading status, but ensure that only applies very specifically to the farm produce, arts and crafts.

“The other issue that will have to be regulated is in relation to the parking of vehicles on and around the Diamond but surely that could be easily resolved.

“Those are teething problems. The market is very well established now and I think it has proved itself. I think public opinion will also prove that the market has become part of Donegal town.

“There was an argument that it went from one month to fortnightly and that has to do with sustainability. If you only have a customer once a month, it’s too easy to lose them. I don’t think the town is divided on this issue. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and there are differences in opinion. But I don’t think there are any issues there that can’t be resolved through consultation and with good will on all parts.

“The Chamber has done its damnedest, in conjunction with the Producers group, to ensure that it is regulated.

“There was an informal agreement when the market with the council but I’m not aware that it would have had any formal legal standing.

The Chamber has to be responsible to its members and most of our members are business people. We would never do anything to endanger their businesses. It’s better to talk about the issues and iron them out.

“It’s a fabulous product for the town, an attraction that pulls people in. It’s a no-brainer that it’s the sort of thing the town needs.”

Cllr Mick McMahon also urged everyone to get talking. “The market should remain open. It’s a great success for the town and its vital, in the downturn, that we encourage the people who are producing this high quality foods and goods.

“Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Let’s get everyone around a table and a give them a facilitator if needed and get whatever needs to be sorted out sorted.”

See letters P12