'Killybegs is thriving' - Cllr Kennedy
'Killybegs is thriving' - Cllr Kennedy
Recent rumours of the demise of Killybegs have been greatly exaggerated. Far from a failing town, as depicted in some recent reports, this is a thriving community with expanding businesses and industries competing not only nationally but on a global scale.
The claim has been made that 250 jobs have been lost here. We didn’t lose 250 jobs; these were "potential jobs" depending on a number of recommendations made back in 2011.
The sources of the actions that will deliver the job opportunities are predicated on the resolution of a number of items:
1. The appointment of a Killybegs development co-ordinator
2. The harbour management activity committee
3. The continuation of an integrated approach
5. Legislative issues, foreshore, planning, commercial buildings.
6. A marine survey office.
7. A Border Inspection Post.
Presently, only actions 2 and 3 are in place; the harbour management activity committee (The Harbour Users' Forum) and the continued integrated approach with local business interests working hand-in-hand with Donegal County Council, the Letterkenny Institute of Technology (LYIT) and Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).
Government support for the job-creation plan was on a cost-neutral basis. Assurances were provided that various agencies would proactively engage to enable relevant initiatives agreed within the scope of the strategy.
The 5 key areas for the potential jobs are:
1. Promoting seafood value added activity 130 jobs
2. Enhancing ancillary services 24 jobs
3. Developing offshore supports 20 jobs
4. Promoting tourism and marine leisure 47jobs
5. Promoting green economy / renewable energy 39 jobs
It was noted that additional jobs could be created if collaborative opportunities between various companies could be enhanced and abilities promoted with the support of local government, educational and State agencies. Donegal County Council are actively promoting the ancillary services in their marketing and through Golden Bridges.
It was also noted that upskilling would be required for the 20 jobs in the offshore sector. This is happening through the private sector presently.
In the green economy, it was noted that appropriate marketing was essential with a longer term focus to develop the necessary infrastructure and resources. Donegal County Council are actively promoting this through Golden Bridges and LYIT by training on wind energy.
I would say that the 47 jobs identified within the tourism and marine leisure are on target with the development of an appropriate marine tourism infrastructure along with a co-ordinated marketing strategy.
The construction of the Small Craft Berthing Facility for marine leisure and tourism within Killybegs harbour is well underway at an estimated cost of €1.1m to date from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
The collaborative approach between the Department of Marine, tourism providers, Donegal County Council and the local community has seen a large boost in cruise ship tourism to the port, which would by no means be profitable for the Department of Marine but they acknowledge the economic spin-off throughout the County from these cruise ships.
Donegal County Council has had a very large input into the promotion, funding, and marketing of the cruise ship, sailing and other water sports and tourism-based activities through Malin Waters and Sail West promotions. BIM's Fishery Local Action Group (FLAG) funding has also created a potential tourism event for the future of communities dependent on the fishing industry.
The largest publically-funded project in Killybegs is the €55m development of the new pier.
The latest initiative from LYIT and Donegal County Council, along with EU funding, will if successful provide for a centre of excellence for seafood, renewable energy and tourism.
It must be said that the highest investments in developing Killybegs have come from the private sector. Since the report launch the following can be confirmed:
ñ Since 2014, nineteen cruise ships have entered the port of Killybegs, 12 cruise ships are already booked for 2016 and 4 already booked for 2017. This will not only benefit Killybegs but the entire North west, thousands of visitors throughout the season, with this year being the first time for passengers to embark at the port for their holiday.
ñ The Bay View Hotel reopened creating 40 jobs. Two coffee shops opened, crafts people from throughout the County came to sell their products at the fairs when cruise ships are in port. These private-sector initiatives have created 50 full-time jobs and a further 10 part-time jobs in Killybegs.
ñ 14 full time jobs has been created in one seafood business, developing value-added seafood products.
ñ The ancillary services sector has never been busier with a number of companies excelling in their fields across the world. I can confirm that, all through private investment on a range of companies I have talked to, the increase in employment since 2012 is 84.
ñ So, by private investment an extra 84 jobs have been created in ancillary industries and 60 jobs in tourism since 2012.
ñ The Biomarine plant with its potential of 70 jobs would have likely been on the radar within this document. Until the decision is made by An Bord Pleanala for this plant, we cannot comment.
ñ The reduction in fish quotas in general along with the migratory pattern in the Boarfish fishery has led to reduced employment in the factories. Without the fish we cannot upgrade our fleet and deliver to our factories to go to market.
ñ In 2012, a total of 197,654 tonnes of fish were landed in Killybegs
ñ In 2014, a total of 183,053 tonnes have been landed, the fish landings are down but our employment is up.
However, in 2015 we have seen four new boats landing into Killybegs harbour, two major lengthening jobs and one more new vessel for 2016.
One Killybegs business man has stated: “Killybegs has never been busier”. I believe there is no need for any more negativity.