A surfer comes back into dry land at Rossnowlagh beach
Local businesses in south Donegal are being put in jeopardy by mobile traders coming from Northern Ireland to trade at local tourism hotspots, it has been claimed.
A local councillor has said ratepayers in south Donegal are being let down by Donegal County Council's failure to enforce bylaws over casual trading.
The claim was made by Cllr Barry O'Neill who said he had complaints from local businesses in Rossnowlagh about the amount of casual trading that was permitted at the village’s famous beach during the good weather at the weekend.
Cllr O’Neill said he has had complaints about the number of mobile traders, most of them from Northern Ireland, trading at the beach, despite casual trading not being permitted at beaches in the county.
After the first good weekend he had a message from a local ratepayer in Rossnowlagh, he told the May meeting of the Donegal Municipal District.
The message stated that there were two mobile sweet shops operating on the beach at the weekend along with many others. “Why do we as ratepayers have to compete with these fly by night operators?” the message said.
“We need enforcement of the beach bylaws. You can have all the bylaws you want in the world but they don't work unless you enforce them,” Cllr O’Neill said.
He said local business would be forced to close if the situation continues.
“There would be an outcry tomorrow if the local shop or post office closed. How can it stay open if we are going to allow black market competition. Who is winning? The ratepayers are not winning, the council is not winning. People are paying high rates for tourism facilities and all sorts of things are going on around us.
“We have had the first good weather and this is very unfair on a local family providing a service to a local community.”
The Ballyshannon-based councillor said there are similar issues in Bundoran.
He also added that traders who come from outside the county during the Rory Gallagher International Festival in Ballyshannon leave over 300 bags of rubbish for local people to clear up.
“I don’t think it is fair and really ask that the planning department the environment department and the coastal protection officer make a concerted effort,” he said.
“It comes up every year here - it should be dealt with. The problem is not going to go away. Council enforcement officers need to be on the beach when it is busy.”
There could be also insurance issues with “chip vans being on the beach," he said.
“The man up the road is getting hit for everything the sun,” he said.
“There is a local business and when the sun is out his businesses goes down and it should be going up.
“These traders come from Craigavon, Tyrone, and Antrim and come down and take the cream and head off and leave nothing.
“If we don't deal with this we are letting ratepayers down.”
The meeting agreed to hold a workshop on the issue. A council official told the meeting a response would be brought back on the issues raised.