Newmills Corn and Flax Mills will lose out on funding and investment until its visitor numbers are increased, the local council has heard.
Mayor of Letterkenny-Milford Jimmy Kavanagh has called for more energy to be put into the promotional of the heritage site to secure its future.
Minister for Office of Public Works Patrick O’Donovan visited the Mill in mid-February but said that investment in the attraction will depend on visitor numbers. The Minister said the Mill was not getting the prominence it should, compared to other sites. The council heard that Newmills Corn and Flax Mills welcomes approx 3,000 visitors per year, while nearby Glenveagh National Park has approx 200,000 annual visitors.
Cllr Jimmy Kavanagh said he was ‘disappointed’ there was a missed opportunity on the day of the Minister’s visit because the Mill was closed. A foreman at the site shared in-depth information, but Mr O’Donovan was unable to experience the tour of the mill or the audiovisual facilities.
Furthermore, other councillors of the Letterkenny-Milford District have said they missed out on the chance to meet the Minister during his time in the town.
Speaking at the March meeting of the Letterkenny-Milford MD, Cllr Gerry McMonagle questioned why not all members were formally invited to the visit. He told councillors that he would have wanted to discuss flooding issues with the Minister.
“I can’t believe, to be honest, that a visit like that could be arranged outside the knowledge of the MD and I think it’s bad practice,” Cllr McMonagle said, questioning whether invites were shared among members of certain political parties.
Cllrs Gerry McMonagle from Sinn Fein and Independent councillors Michael McBride and Kevin Bradley said they would have liked to have been asked, yet they only learned about the event after it happened. Members were told that the visit was organised outside the remit of the Letterkenny-Milford MD and was part of a wider county visit.
The council said there is ongoing engagement with the OPW regarding Newmills Corn and Flax Mills. They said that the OPW acknowledged that, to date, the planning, roads and conservation divisions of Donegal County Council have been extremely helpful with assisting OPW in the plans for the Newmills site and they look forward to future positive engagement with the Council.
Further contact will be made to OPW on foot of this motion by Community Development to engage further and discuss areas where Donegal County Council can assist to promote the project.