Alarm Bells

I read in today’s Inish Times by Roisin Henderson something that set the alarm bells ringing in mu head. It was about the Foyle Ferry meeting last week. I had been told that it was a positive meeting and that some good ideas and suggestions had come out of it.

According to Roisin’s report, it was agreed at the meeting that the Foyle Ferry company couldn’t be expected to continue to run the ferry at a loss. They also praised Donegal and Limavady councils for stumping up money to keep it going in recent years.

Now, they said the solution was for the Government to fund it.

Alarm Bells

At that, all sorts of alarm bells starting going off in my head.

They may be correct that the Government should fund it. Indeed they said that the money needed was ‘miniscule’ at €200,000 to fund it compared to the £2m given to the Strangford Ferry.

This may well be true. However, we know how tight Government purse strings are when it comes to funding things in Donegal.

We all now how long the decision-making process is when it comes to Government. You don’t ask them for €200,000 and the money comes back a week or a month later. All sorts of reports have to be made and meetings had.

If we are to wait for the Government, we would be waiting a very long time and, in this financial climate, when they are still cutting savagely, we may wait forever. The unfinished breakwater at Greencastle should remind us of this.

Press Release

The other alarm bell that run in my head was in a Press Release from Mary McCauley. In an otherwise admirable Press Release which we published as did the local newspapers, she said “The scale of the damage is substantial and will require an enormous amount of Government capital injection”.

Alarm bells are going off again. If Mary is correct in her analysis, that this can’t be fixed without an ‘enormous amount of Government capital injection”, then I’m afraid it is likely that the shore path will be shut for years.

White Wall

The reason for the alarm bells is from my memory of a meeting I went to, when the WHite Wall in Bath Green had been down over a year and the stones just lying on the ground with a big gaping hole in the wall.

I had written an article on CraicOn about it which got published in one of the local newspapers (probably the Journal).

Marion McDonald, who was the Councillor at the time, knocked my door and said “There’s going to be a meeting about the White Wall at the White Wall at 1pm if you want to come along”.

It was a bad day as I had to catch a plane to Scotland at 4pm that day and had stuff to do – but I went along.


Marion was there along with someone from the council, a council engineer and someone from FAS. There was talk about how to get it back up again, it being a local landmark with lots of memories.

They were saying that it was a tree’s roots from the other side of the wall that had caused it to fall down. It seemed that they had asked the owner to put it back up but the owner said that it could have been caused by local vandals.

There was talk about a court case. I asked how long this would take and the reply was that it would take years. That didn’t seem a good way forward.


Then someone, who I think was an expert, said that there would only be about 4 or 5 people in Ireland who had the skills to restore the wall as it had been. That seemed a bit strange, I thought, but kept quiet.

I asked how long that would take. All sorts of reports would have to be done and people spoken to and funding requests made and approved and maybe not approved depending on priorities.

I was wondering why they needed to go through all this. However, they were the experts and I wasn’t.


I finally decided to pipe up. Part of the wall that was still up had some red bricks at the top.

There seemed to be some misunderstanding about the White Wall. It was as if they thought it had great architectural and heritage value, maybe that St. Patrick had built it himself – or Colmcille.

So I asked “Why does some expert need to build it at great expense. The wall isn’t that important in itself as a piece of architecture. You can see where parts of it have been replaced by red bricks and not even painted over. It could be just thrown up as best as they could. Why not get someone local to do it?

I was thinking that Paddy Barr and Paddy Kearney could probably have it all back up in a couple of days.


Once the misapprehension was gone and they saw that this was just an ordinary wall with no great architectural claims then things ideas started to come out and things happened fast.

Maybe we could get the FAS guys to do it” said the guy from the Council and they started then on how it should be done which, I think, was more up their street and they enjoyed more.

They came up with a great solution which would prevent the trees knocking it down again. The White Wall was back up in a matter of weeks after lying in bits for more than a year.

Cause for Alarm

That’s why Mary’s statement “The scale of the damage is substantial and will require an enormous amount of Government capital injection” and the statement from the ferry meeting that the Government should stump up €200,000 to keep the ferry running has rung alarm bells in my head.

As a recent article of ours said, the orignal shore path was erected by local people with funds raised locally.

Perhaps, we should be keeping that option open too.

Gone for Years

If we have to rely on massive amounts of money from the Government to fix the shore path and 200K from them to keep the ferry open then I fear that we are going to be without them for the next few years.

And that would be a shame!

In fact it would be a disaster for the area.

Martine Farren and te Roads Manager for Donegal Council are getting an assessment by the engineers as to the damage,cost and timescales. Once that report is ready, decisions on a way forward should be taken then.

If the solution is that massive amounts of money are needed from the Government to repair the shore path and keep the ferry open then I’m afraid we are in a lot of trouble.

What we really need, at least in the short term, is a White Wall Solution.