OPW turns down funding request for Donegal coastal community

Maghery community still seeking a robust coastal defense after storms damaged dunes in 2013.

Carolyn Farrar

Reporter:

Carolyn Farrar

Email:

carolyn.farrar@donegaldemocrat.com

OPW turns down funding request for Donegal coastal community

A sign near the Ionad an Mhachaire, the Maghery community centre.

The Office of Public Works has again refused an application for funding for coastal defences at Maghery.

Glenties Municipal District councillors heard today that the OPW refused the most recent application because it included a proposal for rock armour - a coastal defence long supported by local people - that an earlier commissioned report had recommended against.

The application sought funding to reinstate a lathe system of dune protection in conjunction with rock armour. An academic study the council commissioned a number of years earlier had recommended against any attempt at hard engineering at Maghery strand, but local residents have long called for coastal defences more robust than the lathe system now in place.

Storms in November of 2013 badly damaged the lathes. Dunes that had built up in the lathe system eroded and sand swept through nearby houses and the Ionad an Mhachaire, the local community centre.

David Friel, council coastal officer, recommended to Glenties Municipal councillors at their meeting today, Tuesday, that the council submit two new applications: One for funding to reinstate the lathe system; and a second, separate application to fund rock armour along a section of the strand.

"I think it's important we're not abandoning that request from local people," Mr. Friel said. Councillors supported the proposal for a joint approach, to submit separate applications to seek funding for rock armour as well as to reinstate the lathes.

"This is a community that has fought tooth and nail to protect their community," Cllr. Marie Therese Gallagher, Glenties Municipal District cathaoirleach, said.

Frances Boyle, a member of the Maghery Coastal Erosion Group, said later that they were "bitterly, bitterly disappointed" with the OPW decision.

"That's the third application that has gone in," she said. "We're not asking for the moon, the sun and the stars. We're asking for 150 metres of a more robust-type armour that will stop impact of the large waves that come in from destroying the only sand dune that's between the beach and the Maghery centre.

"If you don't protect what's here, it's going to go," she said. Ms. Boyle said the coastal landscape has also changed significantly since 2004, when the lathe system was recommended.

She said the community has received great support from Donegal County Council and the councillors, and challenged OPW officials to come to Maghery and see for themselves the damage to the lathes and boardwalks.

"Why has this damage not been rectified since 2013?" Ms. Boyle asked.

See Thursday's Donegal Democrat for more.