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Donegal Cancer groups have voiced serious concerns that the massive monies raised here - almost 350,000 euro - during May’s Relay For Life (RFL) event will not be spent here.

With cutbacks seriously affecting cancer patient care in the county the ‘Journal’ was unable to get confirmation of claims made locally that as little as 7,000 could be spent here.

The Irish Cancer Society (ICS) fundraiser held at Letterkenny Institute of Technology raised 346,759 euro, the highest total ever achieved in the Twenty-Six Counties.

The figure will be boosted by ongoing sales of Daniel O’Donnell’s specially penned charity-single “I’ll See This Journey Through.”

A clearly upset cancer survivor from Inishowen contacted the Journal yesterday claiming the Dublin-based ICS had not consulted any local groups about where or how the Donegal-raised money should be spent.

She said: “I feel money raised through RFL Donegal should stay in this county. It should be used for the benefit of past, present and future cancer patients here. The money should go to the oncology unit of Letterkenny general hospital; a dedicated paediatric unit within Donegal hospice; the hospice patients’ comfort fund; and funding palliative home-care for end-of-life cancer patients.

Forced to travel

“Cancer patients in Donegal are forced to travel to Dublin or Galway for treatment or to die. It’s that stark a decision. Will any of the RFL Donegal money be used to fund their transport? Before RFL People in Donegal assumed their donations would remain within the county, however, as far as I am aware, the ICS has not yet given this commitment.”

Betty Holmes of Donegal Action for Cancer Care (DACC) confirmed she had been unable to get clarification on RFL spending from Mr John McCormick CEO of the ICS.

She said: “To clear up any confusion, DACC would like to discuss what cancer services within Donegal the amazing RFL money will be spent on or invested in. We wrote to the ICS on May 29 saying we would be in Dublin on June 13. However, this date did not suit Mr McCormick. He was in Letterkenny at a RFL thank-you-dinner on June 29 but did not seek a meeting with DACC.

“DACC is delighted Donegal was to the fore in RFL fundraising. The total raised clearly showed the devastating extent to which cancer has touched the lives of people in Donegal. It is vital we get this message across to national politicians and decision-makers.”

The Newtown activist welcomed the ICS’s recent announcement it was establishing a Daffodil Centre in Letterkenny hospital.

Speaking to the Journal, Donna Parsons the ICS’s communications manager said the charity does not ring-fence funds raised in a particular area for that area.

She said: “The ICS is a national service. It fundraises throughout Ireland and divides up the money for the benefit of cancer patients everywhere, such as the provision of a national helpline on 1800 200 700.”