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SLIABH LIAG DISTILLERS

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Déjà vu

Well that was a palaver. An Taisce appealed Donegal County Council’s planning grant as we all expected they would. A desire to conserve the area is laudable but to preserve the area in aspic will only serve to stifle opportunity and weaken the community and that cant be right.

The local objections are part of a concert party and seem to be designed to stop the distillery rather than to seek amendments to the planning to accommodate concerns, and there is some decidedly sharp practice going on which belies the “hail fellow well met” bonhomie of the face to face meetings, and is nothing but an abuse of position within some of the local bodies. It has incensed some local groups and have had to ask a number of local supporters to stay off the media as we felt they might target individuals when it is peoples right to object and raise concerns.

One local councillor described it like the “community hitting the self-destruct button” which while perhaps melodramatic is about right. My view is that if we wait for Government to come up with solutions and opportunities for the Donegal Gaeltacht it will be too late. Successive governments of all hues have focused on other areas of the country and there is nothing to suggest that will change meaningfully any time soon. The government is far too wrapped up in its burgeoning GDP figures which seem to be more of an accounting exercise than a tangible employment creator. As a community, we must take control over our own destiny, one that is resolutely proud of our heritage and build robust businesses that will endure. Waiting to be treated as special by government is I fear a wait in vain.

So we have submitted our responses to the appeal, guided through the process by Connal Newman who was blunt, to the point and clear about what was needed. A huge amount of work has gone into the submission (96 pages in all) and I got to use some of my soil and water engineering qualifications in earnest and we have addressed all the legitimate concerns people could have … the spurious and the mendacious we leave to the Bord.

Hopefully good sense will prevail.