Former Quigley’s Point businessman struggles to find a reason to be optimistic
A MUFF businessman, who watched his filling station, supermarket and pub-restaurant close down in recent years, said it is demoralising to see local areas becoming more and more like ‘ghost towns’.
“It’s awful, awful sad to see so many premises closing down in Inishowen. It’s hard to be optimistic when you see the state that the country is in; this hole that we are in just seems to be too big,” Jim McLaughlin said.
“I’m sure there are many business owners out there who are behind with their rates, VAT and water but the money just isn’t there to help them get out of it,” he added.
Mr. McLaughlin said ‘over-regulation’ is putting struggling local firms under increased pressure.
“There is far too much red tape and regulations for business owners these days. It is completely ruining the country. There is too much of an emphasis on health and safety and inspections,” he said.
The former Muff publican and businessman, who now concentrates on farming, said that there is little or no help for businesses that fail when it comes to redundancy payouts.
“The owners have to pay it all themselves,” he said. Referring to the Croke Park public service agreement, Mr. McLaughlin said it is a ‘joke the way the country has ended up’.
“It’s just so hard to see a way out of it because so many different sectors are in trouble; the fishing industry is struggling, tourism is struggling – everything is connected and relevant to the decline of local business,” he said.
Touching on the issue of increasing rural isolation, Mr. McLaughlin said it is an ‘absolute disgrace’ that small Post Offices are being allowed to close across the country.
“The closure of a Post Office, like the one in Gleneely recently, has a detrimental effect on the entire town or village. The Post Office and shop would have been a social hub, particularly for older people.”
“People would have called in to collect their pensions or dole and spent a few euro in the town while they were there but once a Post Office closes that doesn’t happen anymore,” he added.