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Cui bono?

A decision to allow the proposed Ballyshannon by-pass road to proceed as planned was handed down by An Bord Pleanála in August, infuriating residents who had voiced their opposition at public hearings held in April.

That their concerns were brushed aside should not have come as a complete shock. They faced tremendous odds. Pressure to push the proposed route through, no matter what the social and economic cost to the town, came from many sources. Whether exerted publicly or privately, that pressure ignored the democratically expressed views of local people.

To what end? To whizz motorised traffic along a route dissecting established neighbourhoods.

Are the residents of those neighbourhoods likely to benefit?

Are the residents of Ballyshannon as a whole likely to benefit?

Will the people in the cars, trucks, and tourist busses, hell bent on saving precious minutes of travelling time, leave the new throughway to visit Ballyshannon if they see little benefit in doing so?

Naturally these are questions that can only be answered with the passage of time measured in decades. Such was the case with the Erne Scheme which heralded such promise more than fifty years ago, but is now seen to have delivered little benefit locally and much loss to a renowned fishery and environment.

In previous articles this web site has documented the decline in Ballyshannon's population as experienced during the past fifty years. The 2000 census figures, recently released, show a further loss. Will the by-pass/throughpass motorway halt and ultimately reverse the trend? Again, only the passage of years can tell.

It cannot be gainsaid that other areas and other Donegal towns may benefit from speedier delivery of goods, services, and the all-important tourists, but that speed of delivery could also be achieved with a slight alteration to the proposed route of the new highway, an alteration beneficial both to Ballyshannon and all of Donegal.

Cost has been cited as a factor in ruling out the proposed alteration. That argument beggars belief.

If there is money available to build a proposed by-pass canal, money available to dynamite the bar at the mouth of the River Erne estuary, money available to build not one but a string of marinas catering to water-borne tourists, then there is money available to save the town of Ballyshannon from exploitation by those forces determined to see the by-pass road rammed through the town on a route that the majority do not want, especially when a better alternative route available.

There is more than a whiff, there is a definite sniff of odorous air hanging over the whole process.

Cui bono?


  1. There is work available over the next half century for budding social historians in tracking the impact of the by-pass decision on the town of Ballyshannon. One may hope that they find inspiration from Ronald Blythe's "Akenfield", in the Penguin social history series. According to a Guardian review, "A hundred years from now, anyone wanting to know how things were on the land will turn more profitably to "Akenfield" than to a sheaf of anaemically professional social surveys."

    Akenfield brought a poet's touch to his work dealing with a rural English village. Donegal, thankfully, is rich in that tradition.

  2. Efforts to promote development of Sminver Stream must now be redoubled in a last chance to rehabilitate the salmon and trout angling sport fishery for which the Erne River was famous for so long.


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