THOMAS Independent Donegal
PRINGLE T.D. Independent voice for the people
The fight to maintain our School of Tourism
My first time raising the School of Tourism in the Dáil, 8th May 2013. I had a meeting with the working group of LYIT, the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and the Department of Education representatives over at the Tourism College in late March as part of their consultations regarding the future of the Killybegs campus of LYIT. Overall I would be cautiously optimistic after talking to them. The HEA and Department representatives seemed to be genuinely interested in putting together a plan to see the college given the space to develop, but time will tell if we get to see the report. I am glad that it appears that the decisionmaking has been taken away from LYIT management. I welcome the opportunity to meet with the working group although it was disappointing to see that it did not intend to meet with Donegal TDs until I requested it which is a worrying position as we represent the views of thousands of citizens in Donegal South West who have an interest in seeing the campus in Killybegs develop and be successful into the future. But nonetheless it was a positive meeting. They also met with Donegal County Council, BIM, Hotels Federation, Fáilte Ireland and others the next day and they are due to report to the Finance Committee of the HEA by the end of June (report not completed at time of print). I will be pushing for a meeting at that time to review the report and keep the pressure on. I was sure to highlight, as I always have, how the School of Tourism remaining open in Killybegs can develop and help our area, including the potential that the development of the Wild
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Atlantic Way has in growing tourist numbers in Donegal. The School of Tourism can develop and help the area to capitalise on the increase in numbers by facilitating the development of tourism and giving training opportunities and skills to people in the area. This September will also see the commencement of the BSc in Culinary Arts and Food Development and with the show of interest in this new degree course it will see numbers start to increase in the college, so the HEA and the Department need to give this course the space to develop, and support LYIT in developing it. I am also awaiting the outcome on the Freedom of Information (FOI) appeal which I referred to the Information Commissioner regarding information which has led to the uncertainty we have been facing and I expect to hear back shortly. To date LYIT and the HEA have not been helpful in providing information to our community and have refused my FOI requests for a copy of the three year financial plan submitted by LYIT in June last year. I have continued to bring this issue to the attention of the Minister for Education and have raised it in the Dáil on numerous occasions and I will continue to push this matter until we know that our School of Tourism will remain open and thriving in Killybegs to the benefit of our community.
Mary Melly, Anne Brosnan, Faustina McFadden, Patricia Murrin, Michael Conaghan TD and myself in Dáil Éireann July 11th, 2013 after meeting with Ruairi Quinn’s advisors to highlight the need to keep the Tourism College open.
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Killybegs Community Hospital I have been continuing to work for our community to ensure that Killybegs Community Hospital maintains its community hospital status. In my view we need to be vigilant to make sure the HSE does not again increase the number of long stay beds. Most recently I have again been in touch with the HSE Area Manager for Donegal regarding the importance of this matter. He informed me again that the HSE proposes to create a long stay ward with 13 beds and 24 short stay beds and also forwarded to me the specific proposals as to how the first floor of the hospital would be restructured. Nothing can be done unless the Health Information & Quality Authority (HIQA) approves this. This proposal is expected to be submitted this month. I have also been in contact with the Minister for Health and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform highlighting the importance of Killybegs Community Hospital keeping its community hospital status for our community, and Iâ€™ve also brought it up in the DĂĄil numerous times. But what must also be tackled is the recruitment embargo. If we want the health services to work for the benefit of the community, we need to ensure that beds in community hospitals are kept operational. Staff should be allocated on a temporary basis to ensure that happens. Bed closures
Thomas outside Killybegs Community Hospital
have a domino effect which in turn ties into the problems Letterkenny General Hospital is experiencing, whereby patients cannot move out of the general hospital into community hospitals where many beds have been closed because of staffing shortages and the ongoing embargo.
Fintra Bridge As you are aware, the new bridge has been approved to be constructed at Fintra in Killybegs. This construction on the R263 is a vital link giving access to Kilcar, Carrick and Glencolmcille. During my time on the council I kept this bridge on the priority list for the Donegal Electoral Area but unfortunately we were not able to secure funding for it. I wish to commend Cllr John Campbell for keeping the bridge on the agenda and getting it to the point where there is now planning for the bridge. Thomas at Fintra Bridge
New footpaths for Killybegs I have been informed recently that there may be extra funding made available in the next few weeks for footpath repairs in Killybegs. Myself and Cllr John Campbell had been making further representations to Donegal County Council for increased footpath repair funding and this extra funding should be made available to complete St Cumminâ€™s Hill and extend the repairs at Church Road, the first and second priorities for the Donegal Electoral Area. Watch this space for confirmation.
This bridge is a vital link for our community and is also the main access to the world renown Slieve League Cliffs that Donegal County Council want to see develop into a major tourist attraction in the southwest. We must now ensure that the funding is secured so that this much needed improvement can begin as soon as possible for the benefit of everyone in the surrounding communities.
Killybegs Playground - my work on your behalf I am aware that there has been some confusion recently regarding the Killybegs playground and what exactly has happened over the last few years. I am happy to clarify the matter and provide a clear picture of the involvement of myself and others. • As you would probably be aware, it was in 1999 when the playground/park objective of the Parish Council was announced as a Millennium project to be located in the Carpet Factory Field. That same year I as a Councillor proposed the motion which was passed at Donegal County Council that the Council insure playgrounds when constructed. • 2000-2006 there was a legal dispute regarding the site for the playground and in 2006 the Parish Council accepted that the Carpet Factory Field was no longer an option for the playground. The Playground Committee was established in 2006 as a subcommittee of the Parish Council with myself as Chair and Niamh Kennedy as Treasurer, along with other members. • In 2006 the planning application was submitted for the playground at Drumbeagh which was granted in March 2007. The playground was then tendered but the cost of access to the site was excessive (€110,000). However, in 2008 the Parish Council agreed to allow the playground committee to concentrate on the site in at the Whitehouse as the only feasible site to develop the playground. • 2008-2011 Funding availability collapsed through the County Council and alternatives were sought. I approached United Fish Industries for sponsorship for the playground and John Healy, MD gave a significant donation of €10k in April 2008 (see photo bottom right). Then in 2011 the County Council agreed to fund the playground through the Percent for Art Scheme (budget max €95k). I also donated €3.5k of discretional funding for the playground. Competition held and architect appointed by the County Council, but the proposed cost was over budget. • 2011-2012 Alternative sources of funding were sought; Donegal County Council approached the Donegal Local Development Company (DLDC) who at the time had only recently been able to assist projects with County Council involvement. • 2012- DLDC decided that they would only accept an application from Killybegs Parish/ Community Council who they already had a funding relationship with. Myself and Niamh completed the funding application to DLDC on behalf of the Community Council and put in place funding to bridge the gap. • 2013 We then opened tenders for the playground in May. The contractor was then appointed and construction commenced in October 2013.
Thomas at the Killybegs Playground
From this you can see that myself and others were involved in this process from an early stage. What changed was when the DLDC requested the application to come from the Community Council, and not the Playground Committee where I was Chair. But as Niamh was also Chair of the Community Council as well as being on the Playground Committee, we continued to work together and towards the latter stages I continued to provide my full support in an advisory capacity. Killybegs is my home and although the process of getting the playground was far from easy, I stuck with it throughout for the good of our community, along with others. I have always worked for what’s best for Killybegs and Donegal and I always will.
Thomas with United Fish Industries’ (fishmeal plant) John Healy presenting €10k sponsorship to Thomas via the Playground Committee in 2008.
Independent Out and AboutVoice for the People - Killybegs
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Independent Donegal South West
PRINGLE T.D. Constituency Office, Killybegs Phone: 074 974 1880 Fax: 01 618 4118
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