The Donegal Coiste Na Oileann (Islands Committee) has called for a meeting with Chief Whip and Minister of State Joe McHugh to discuss serious congestion issues at Magheraroarty Pier.
The pier is the port for the Tory Island ferry and the Coiste have requested the meeting following a call from Fianna Fail councillor Seamus O’Domhnaill.
Cllr O’Domhnaill made the request after hearing of the serious difficulties being experienced by local fishermen and ferry users, both locals and visitors, at a Donegal Coiste Ná nOilean meeting on Gola Island on Tuesday morning.
Magheraroarty is also the main fishing port for the north west of the county.
Local fishermen are having difficulties too in finding berths at the pier since the Tory ferry dispute and the arrival of the second ferry which now berths overnight at the pier.
Local fisherman John O’Brien, the Inishbofin Island representative on the Coiste Na Oileann Committee, told of the problems local fishermen were having since the arrival of the second ferry. He also outlined the fears the fishermen have.
“Because of the two ferries now to Tory, two spaces are being taken up at the pier which means there is no space for local boats,” Mr. O’Brien told Tuesday’s meeting with Glenties Municipal councillors.
He said the pier was not suitable for the extra boat and he asked who would compensate the local boat owners if the ropes were to break and damage was done to the other fishing boats.
“If that were to happen it could cost up to €1m to replace a boat and that could take two to three years. Will Donegal County Council compensate the fishermen?” Mr O’Brien asked.
He said Magheraroarty had replaced Bunbeg as the main port for heavy goods delivery to Tory Island which was increasing the pressure on Magheraroarty.
Mr O’Brien also addressed the issue of lorries blocking access to the ferry while collecting crabs from local fishermen.
He asked if signs were going to be put up to inform lorry drivers that they cannot park and block the slipway during ferry times.
But the suggestion of signs was rejected by Cllr O’Domhnaill who informed the meeting that the signs had no powers in law and that the county bye-laws would have to change in order to give them powers.
He instead suggested that the members ask for a meeting with Minister McHugh.
“We know that the development of Magheraroarty is in the National Plan for 2040 and this is something we could discuss with the Minister.”
The difficulties being experienced on Tory Island and by visitors to the island was relayed by Marjorie Carroll, manager of the Tory Island Co-op and the Tory Island representative on the Coiste Na nOilean.
Tuesday's meeting was the first meeting of the Donegal Islands committee on Gola Island.
Aplologies were received from Chief Whip and Minister of State Joe McHughwho could not attend.
Minister McHugh was represented by his constituency secretary Evelyn Sweeney.