Ardara "a shining example to the rest of the county and country" - Donegal Association President

"The contribution and achievements of the social entrepreneur" is recognised

Michael Daly

Reporter:

Michael Daly

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michael.daly@donegaldemocrat.com

Ardara  "a shining example to the rest of the county and country" - Donegal Association President

Stephen with Grainne Gavigan and Mary B Gallagher at the banquet.

Communities like Ardara are a shining example to the rest of the country, the President of the Donegal Association in Dublin told guests at the association's annual banquet in Dublin.

Hugh Harkin said Donegal "has the highest unemployment rate of any county - and indeed the rest of the country - at twice the national average - and the lowest level of disposable income per head in the country."

However, he said the community in Ardara stands out as a shining example to the rest of the county and country of what can be achieved by the determined efforts of local people working together, largely on a voluntary basis.

"So, I would say to other look at what Ardara has done and learn from it. I believe this kind of community effort could make a significant impact on changing the unemployment rate and the disposable income per head of population."

He said in recent years the association had acknowledged the contribution of entrepreneurs. "This year, you could say, we are acknowledging the contribution and achievements of the social entrepreneur. While the success in Ardara has clearly been the work of many hands, it takes someone to be the champion and in Ardara, that person, by popular acclaim, is Stephen McCahill."

He said the 2016 recipient of the Donegal Person of the Year, Stephen McCahill wasn't afraid to put his head "above the parapet". He said there would always be people waiting to "take a pot shot at you when you do this". But, he added, "Stephen has shown what can be done when you just get on with the work and not let any of that deter you."

Stephen McCahill, he said, was a hugely popular choice for the award: "It is clear from the attendance here tonight and from all the messages we have received in the last six weeks that Stephen is a very popular choice and is recognised as very deserving of the Donegal Person of the Year award. He has made a tremendous contribution to the town of Ardara and indeed to the south west of the county."

He said in recent years the association had acknowledged the contribution of entrepreneurs. "This year, you could say, we are acknowledging the contribution and achievements of the social entrepreneur. While the success in Ardara has clearly been the work of many hands, it takes someone to be the champion and in Ardara, that person, by popular acclaim, is Stephen McCahill."

Mr Harkin praised the work of outgoing Person of the Year, Deirdre McGlone, who had been a "wonderful" ambassador for the county: "She has traversed three continents. She has been to North America four times during the year and I know she has no intention of easing off."