Updated: 18/02/17 : 04:58:06
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Sligo links vital for post Brexit Donegal

Donegal may be forced to look at forging stronger links with Sligo as a direct result of Brexit, it emerged this week.

Donegal Now reports that in recent years, there has been a lot of attention placed on pushing a Letterkenny-Derry corridor as a particular economic zone with a critical mass.

However, some councillors – fearful of the implications of Brexit – have expressed caution in relation to this.

Various agencies are now feeding into what will become a National 2040 Plan, but the impact of Brexit will shape its final outcome.

Cllr. Seamus O’Domhnaill this week said that it was now well established that there will be a “hard border” but the question was “how hard?”

Speaking at an Economic, Enterprise and Planning Strategic Policy Committee meeting in Lifford, he noted that Donegal has been “hanging its hat strongly” on the Letterkenny- Derry corridor as part of its economic planning.

While he agreed that this needs to be “protected” he wondered should Donegal be looking at strengthening links with Sligo.

“If the border comes in we could be very much left on our own as a county,” he said.

“We in Donegal have an economic deficit, average wages are less, there is an infrastructural deficit and less broadband. We need to start fighting and need to be fighting the right battle,” he said.

'Equally important '

He also claimed that from a national perspective “much of the motorway structure in place could be upgraded before thinking about putting in similar roads in the north-west.”

He continued: “Letterkenny and Derry is very important but the south of the county and Sligo are equally important in case the fall out from Brexit does damage the Letterkeny-Derry link.”

Michael Tunney, Head of the Local Enterprise Office, concurred. “It is not a good idea strategically to have just one option.”

Cllr. Nicholas Crossan said “nobody knows what is going to happen. We will be hit more severely than any other county in Ireland. Many people in Donegal go to Derry on a daily basis to work or for education.”

He felt it was important we know as soon as possible about the implications of Brexit.  “How we can do a plan for 2040 when we do not know what is going to happen in the next year, let alone the next 20 years.”

Donegal must prepare “to put on a regional jersey to play a regional game” and there will be a real need to work together ahead of Brexit, a Donegal councillor has declared.

Unique needs

Cllr. Albert Doherty this week highlighted the importance of a united approach as work continues on new regional and national planning guidelines and a new national development plan for 2040.

Cllr. Doherty has stressed the importance of local input and to ensure that the unique needs of the north-west are taken into account.

He said “We need to put a footprint into Ireland 2040.”

He contended that the Donegal has “never been properly serviced by the Dublin administration” and commenting on how it took him five hours to get to Dublin recently, he reiterated calls for investment in infrastructure.

Donegal Co. Council Senior Planning Official Eunan Quinn said that the local authority will be responding to the national planning framework and is encouraging people to make comments.

He agreed that they needed to “reinforce linkages with the rest of the state” and that there was a “deficit of investment north of the Dublin-Galway line.”