An Inishowen fisherman has spoken out against the possibility that pontoons for private boats will be placed at Greencastle harbour.
In July Donegal County Council planner, Paul Kelly, informed members of the Inishowen Electoral Area that a letter had been sent to the council by a local group within the past couple of weeks asking whether or not they needed planning permission to erect pontoons in the harbour area.
Batty Connell, spokesman for the Lough Foyle Oyster Sub-Committee, queried how a private business enterprise could apply to An Bord Pleanala for permission to establish a private marina in a fishing port that belongs to the Donegal Co.Council without their or the local community’s knowledge.
The Greencastle man said with the protest at the fishing port at Greencastle on 7th May, in which local fishermen and representatives were involved, was to highlight their refusal to allow pontoons to be placed in the water.
“I wish to state, on the record, that the protest was as a direst result of information received under the Freedom of Information Act with regard to an application from a local business group to privatise the inner pier at Greencastle and construct a marina at same.
“Neither local fishermen nor Donegal County Council were aware until the protest that an application of any sort existed.”
A former member of An Garda Siochana and county council candidate, Mr Connell said as a consequence of the fishermen refusing the pontoons placement in the water at Greencastle, what he describes as a “malicious and vindictive rumour” was circulated by what he described as “nameless and faceless” people that the protesters turned three yachts out of the pier and into the teeth of a storm.
He suggested that, in his opinion, the purpose of this rumour was to discredit and damage the good name of the fishermen in their own community.”
Following the Electoral Area meeting in Carndonagh in July, planner Mr Kelly said: “The group seemed to think they could go ahead put up the pontoons without the council’s permission. I informed them very quickly they would need planning permission.”
Mr Kelly suggested that generally cases where an applicant didn’t own a property, the landlord was consulted before any planning permission was given.
Arguments over Greencastle harbour hit the headlines in May this year when Sinn Fein Deputy Padraig MacLochlainn was critical of what he said were plans to develop a private marina in Greencastle.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ at the time, Deputy MacLochlainn said the erection of the breakwater in Greencastle was solely to cater for small and commercial fishermen as their boats are currently overcrowded at the pier.
“If there are people who think they can build a private marina in Greencastle while they push out fishermen who have been fishing for generations to facilitate yachts, they can think again because this is not on.”
The Buncrana man also said he felt the group were trying to be in direct competition with the Fahan marina which wasn’t fair.
“The people in Fahan spent over four million euro of their own money and they fought it out in court to have more funding when the government tried to block it.”