A retired nurse from Belfast who has made Donegal her second home said she fears for relations between locals and visitors after the Covid-19 crisis.
The woman said she had to voice her opinion after recent commentary telling visitors to “go home” during the coronavirus pandemic.
She has been coming to the West Donegal region of Gaoth Dobhair since attending the Gaeltacht there as a child.
Five years ago herself and her doctor husband decided to buy a second home in the Derrybeg area.
A month ago before imposed isolation was introduced across Ireland, herself, her husband and her elderly mother decided to travel to their home in West Donegal for a few weeks.
“We love Donegal and we love spending as much time as we can here. I came here as a child and I spent so many great times here.
“We would spend about fifty per cent of our time here and we have never had any issues despite being from outside the area,” she said.
However, recent tensions between locals residents across Donegal and visitors from outside has left her uneasy.
She reveals that it has got to the stage where she does not drive the family car because it has a Northern registration.
“I haven’t had any issues with people locally and perhaps I’m just paranoid but I feel that some people are now looking at license plates to see if they are local or have yellow plates.
“My husband was in the local shop the last day and he heard a woman talking about people coming down from the North and being irresponsible. He spoke to her about it but she just scuttled off and didn’t say anything to him.
“I just want people to realise that every situation is not the same. We are here for over a month now and we are staying here and following all the guidelines being set down.
“However, I do fear that just because we are not from here that tensions could increase and I do fear for relations when all this is over,” she said.
She said she became concerned when she recently read about a local road sign being spray-painted telling people in campervans to go home.
She said she finally decided to speak out after comments she read by Donegal TD Padraig Mac Lochlainn.
He said that people holidaying in Donegal should return to their primary homes over Easter and during the Covid crisis.
“While the large majority are now doing so, I cannot believe that there are still people just ignoring the advice and now the emergency law. So as the Easter weekend approaches, let’s be clear.”
“If you are on holiday in Donegal right now, please go home (you will be welcomed back with open arms when this all passes) and if you are planning to visit Donegal or travel more than 2km from your home for anything other than going to work, caring for your loved ones or shopping in your nearest store, please don’t do it.
“Hopefully, no one will be detained or fined in Donegal in the time ahead but that is up to everyone to do what is right by our community and our country.”
However, she said she completely disagreed at what she called his ‘antagonistic tone.”
“While I completely understand his concerns regarding holidaymakers coming here for short stays over Easter and at other times during this pandemic, his article had an antagonistic tone and read as though it was directed at anyone from outside the county in residence here at this moment in time, “if you are on holiday here go home.”
“Donegal has the same issues with non-compliance with government directives as every other part of the world but the difference is they don’t seem to have to resort to this type of angry rhetoric.
“Speaking as someone who travelled to my second home in Donegal four weeks ago with my elderly mother and husband, both in the “at risk” category, I have never before felt as unwelcome as I do now. The appeal to people to adhere to social distancing, the 2kilometre limits and reducing unnecessary journeys applies to everyone and it is ironic that a Sinn Fein member refers to “our beaches “.
“Rather than admonishing people who are already in Donegal to “go home”, maybe it would be more sensible to advise them to stay put! This kind of belligerence can produce distasteful repercussions as I have experienced in Belfast, in the past. The incident with the spray paint in Derrybeg and now this letter, is causing unease and fear among those who are respectful of local rules and think of Donegal as their second home.”
She said she misses her children, one of whom is a nurse in a Covid ward at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.
She has other children in Belfast as well as a son in Vietnam and a daughter in London who are also in lockdown.
“They are in lockdown and I appreciate that. I’d love nothing better than to see them but I know they can’t come here. We keep in touch online,” she added.
She understands the frustration and annoyance of people with the Easter dash across the border.
“I completely disagree with that and those people should be following the guidelines and not traveling. I completely agree with the Gardai stopping people at the border,” she adds.Tags: