The developer of Lough Swilly Marina at Fahan, JJ McDaid, has claimed government ministers have again blocked attempts to complete the multi-million pound project by appealing to the Supreme Court a decision made in his favour by a lowercourt almost seven years ago.
And, he claims, this action flies in the face of pronouncements by the government that they are anxious to create jobs and promote tourism in Inishowen.
A very annoyed Mr. McDaid, said this latest move was hurting his family in a very ‘personal way’ on this occasion:“My two sons were going to work with me on this. Now that’s it’s not going ahead they are having to emigrate to Australia. There is nothing for them here now.”
Stating that the Department of the Marine had made them ‘jump through hoops’ after they had won their original court case Mr. McDaid said after they had ‘done the jumping’ the Department then went back to the courts anyway.
“We were largely successful in the case against us by the last government and Justice Liam McKetchne awarded us 2.045 million in damages. Justice McKetchnie also ruled that 1.545 million of that money should be released even if the government appealed so that works could begin on the project.
“However, Fine Gael Minister Simon Coveney, who supported us in opposition, decided to file a motion with the Supreme Court at the end of last month asking them to block release of the money pending appeal. The Supreme Court granted their request.
“What that means is that we have been prevented from going forward since 2002, when the department first refused to give us permissions to continue work, and from 2005 when they filed their unsuccessful case against us. This latest appeal could take up to two and half years. It’s costing us an absolute fortune in legal fees and other costs but now all we can do is sit on our hands again.”
Mr McDaid also blasted what he sees as a major blow against a project that could deliver tourism and jobs in an economically deprived area like Inishowen.
“We have a government that claims non stop that it wants to create jobs and increase tourism in this area but what it has actullay done is to block the creation of construction jobs that would have lasted 18 to 24 months. They have also prevented the creation of additional full and part time jobs and put a stop to our ability to increase tourism numbers to Inishowen and Co. Donegal.
“Why politicians would support this project in opposition and then switch over when in power is beyond me. In my opinion, it’s hypocritical.”
Mr. McDaid said it was his personal belief that the minister was acting on advice of unelected civil servants in taking this action. These people, he said, get paid by the taxpayer no matter what so they can continue to block expansion of this marina without any financial risk to themselves while he was forking out huge sums just to keep it going.
“There is huge emigration from Inishowen to Australia and Canada, and the UK. Is it any wonder young people are forced to leave this area when the government won’t assist the businesses that are here and looking to expand?”
He continued: “We have to struggle to defend ourselves financially against a government who seem to have endless supplies of taxpayer’s money to stop us. There’s nothing fair about that. If this was a publicly funded marina, and we were tied in with the elite, then they would be helping us not trying to block us and they would pat us on the back for creating jobs and increasing tourism. But they aren’t doing that. Unfortunately, the real losers are the berth holders who use the marina and have supported us through thick and thin, and those who could have been employed.