Local councillors in Letterkenny and Inishowen have been called on to publicly explain their motivations for voting to legalise gambling machines.
Letterkenny and Inishowen Municipal District councils both passed motions yesterday to adopt Part III of the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956. The law change will allow and regulate game operators in urban areas.
Inishowen Councillors voted in favour of the measure by five votes to four.
Letterkenny Councillors voted in favour by six votes to three.
Two local election candidates have slammed the decisions and expressed fears for the future impact of slot machines in the districts.
Declan Meehan, independent candidate for the Milford Electoral Area said: “It’s disgraceful to think that a group of county councillors have voted to increase the accessibility of gambling in our communities. We have heard numerous stories over the past number of weeks from local people whose family lives have been ruined by gambling addiction. It is the latest example of councillors failing to show real leadership in the community, and instead bowing to vested interests.”
Mr Meehan added: “I am now calling on councillors to publicly explain why they voted for this measure, so that the people of this area can be fully informed of the motives of their candidates when they go to the polls on May 24th.”
Sinéad Stewart, who is running independently in South Inishowen, described the decision as a ‘regressive step’.
Ms Stewart said: “Councillors effectively gave the go-ahead for a free for all for slot machines in Inishowen with the stroke of a pen. They have chosen to ignore the universal warnings of addiction Counsellors and instead chosen to enrich a handful of people who own gambling establishments.”
Ms Stewart who attended the meeting in Carndonagh, commended the councillors who voted against the proposal but described the vote as clear evidence of the ‘good old boys’ club being alive and well in the Inishowen Municipal District Council.
She added “Councillors who voted for this proposal are clearly very out of touch with the sentiments of the people who they rely on for votes. It’s very apparent that the council needs shaking up.”
Speaking at the Letterkenny MD meeting on Tuesday, Cllr Ciaran Brogan, who proposed the motion, said he had been contacted by just one person in opposition to the change during the consultation period.
He said: “A lot of what is happening now is online gambling. What we are trying to do is secure the businesses that are there and for any perception that there would be an open policy and a Las Vegas in the Hills of Donegal when this happens is not the case. There are procedures there where licences have to be carried forward in the courts and that is very clear.”
He said he had no difficulty in proposing the adoption of the motion to amend the ‘outdated’ 1956 act.
“I am informed that there will be an increase in revenue generated from this. I would be very close to the coalface, through my work, on a daily basis and despite all the media and focus on this issue and only one person approached me about it,” Cllr Brogan said, adding: “I wouldn’t be bringing forward this motion if there was a huge concern.”Tags: