The failure to advertise a planning application for an oyster farm in the ‘Derry Journal’ has been raised in the Oireachtas with TD Thomas Pringle claiming the omission met with disapproval from the European Commission.
Sinn Féin Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn also complained details of the application for the erection of oyster trestles at the nuns’ beach in Linsfort should have been made more widely available in Inishowen.
The issue was raised last week at the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Senator Mac Lochlainn said: “We had a situation in Donegal where there was an application for an oyster farm in the Inishowen peninsula.
“The oyster farm in question got planning permission in the Linsfort beach area of Inishowen.
“It got planning permission and virtually nobody in the local community had any knowledge of the application.”
He noted how it was only advertised in the ‘Donegal Democrat’, which circulates most widely to the south and west of Inishowen.
“Anyone present who knows the geography of Donegal will know the Inishowen peninsula is quite distinct from the rest of the county and very few people in the Inishowen peninsula read the ‘Donegal Democrat’, perhaps those from the south of the county who have come to live in Inishowen.
“There are three newspapers that cater for the Inishowen peninsula and not one of those was requested by the Department to run the advertisement,” said Senator Mac Lochlainn.
The Sinn Féin Senator said the firm behind the farm had followed the correct processes as well as the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s procedures when applying for planning permission.
“The company which applied for the oyster farm did no wrong. It was a legitimate business which had every right to apply,” he said.
“It took a hell of a lot of abuse up there because it was seen that it had done things by stealth.”
Mr. John Quinlan, principal officer at, DAFM said: “At the time we received some comments that we should have used a number of other newspapers, one of which was published outside of the jurisdiction. There is a question here of what is practical and reasonable.”
Referring to the paper published outside the jurisdiction, Senator Mac Lochlainn, said that the department might have checked the circulation of the ‘Derry Journal’ in Inishowen.
“He should check its circulation in Inishowen versus the circulation of the ‘Donegal Democrat’,” he commented.
Dr. Cecil Beamish, DAFM assistant secretary, responding to the local Senator said: “The Senator made a lot of statements about what happened at Linsfort beach. The Department has adhered to everything that was required by the legislation under which we must work.
“All of the statutory requirements were adhered to in that case. I will not go into all of the details on an individual basis because we have hundreds of cases.
“The legislation requires that we advertise in a newspaper that is circulated in the area. The requirement is as vague and as general as that. “We do not necessarily know which newspaper does best in a particular sub-part of a county. In this case we advertised in the ‘Donegal Democrat’.”
Independent TD Thomas Pringle said: “To add to the conversation about the newspaper circulation in the area, Donegal County Council has been pulled up by the European Commission for using the Donegal Democrat for public notices in the Inishowen area as it is a paper which does not circulate widely in the area.
“An assessment of newspaper circulation in the area should feed into any review process. It is one thing to say a newspaper is available in an area but a separate issue is whether it is widely circulated.
“Comparison wise, the ‘Donegal Democrat’ might sell one copy in Buncrana whereas the ‘Inishowen Independent’ or ‘Inishowen News’ sell hundreds of copies. That is just for the information of the committee.”