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Latest Government report on Donegal is a damp squib

31 July, 2006

In a joint response to the Government's 'Report of the Interdepartmental Group on Donegal', Sinn Féin election candidates Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and Pearse Doherty have labelled the report as a "damp squib". The two Donegal County Councillors had been in attendance at the launch of the report in Lifford, last Friday and had expressed their profound disappointment directly to Minister Míchael Martin and the Government. They later described the launch as an "embarrassing back slapping exercise".

Colrs Mac Lochlainn and Doherty said:

" We are profoundly disappointed with this report. This Government fail to acknowledge that we are enduring an economic crisis in Donegal. Indeed, when Minister Martin described it as a "so called crisis", it reminded us of Nero fiddling while Rome burned. With our unemployment levels in Donegal many times the national average, and the total failure of the last Government led initiative, the 1998 'Task Force report', we expected real leadership. Instead, we have a damp squib report telling us what we know already from numerous other reports now gathering dust on shelves".

"It is now almost eight years since the 1998 'Task Force' report. That report set a job creation target of 815 net jobs per year over the following seven years, over 5,500 net gains, yet we actually lost jobs. Back in January 2005, a cross party delegation from Donegal County Council led by the County Manager met with the Taoiseach and eight Ministers to outline the extent of the crisis in Donegal and requested a renewed focus from the Government. The Interdepartmental Group was then established and tasked with drawing up a report. We then waited patiently for a year and a half. As the launch approached last Friday, we were anticipating a report with clear targets and recommended actions. When we finally got to scan over the document, we were genuinely shocked at the obvious lack of commitment from this Government to solving the economic crisis in Donegal. Where is the commitment to new job creation targets, a motorway, a gas pipeline, a rail network, decentralisation, and a new beginning"

They concluded:

"We would have expected genuine anger and frustration from our TDs at the launch but instead we witnessed an embarrassing back slapping exercise. The people of Donegal who were unfortunately not there to witness the laughing, giggling, and bluster from those who are supposed to fight for their equality deserve better than this. This whole charade has only strengthened our determination to ensure that the people of Donegal have a real alternative at last when they go to vote next year." ENDS

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