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Dublin: 14 °C Sunday 22 September, 2019
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Donegal community tries to buy former AIB bank building for €1

A councillor said the community wants AIB to hand the bank over to them for local facilities.

The vacant bank building in Derrybeg.
The vacant bank building in Derrybeg.

A SMALL COMMUNITY in the heart of the Donegal Gaeltacht is attempting to claim a former AIB bank building to use for local facilities.

A core group of four people, which includes a local writer, a community worker, a priest and an independent councillor, are behind the campaign to convince AIB to hand the Derrybeg building over to the community.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, councillor Micheál Mac Giolla Easbuig said “the people of this State bailed out the banks so the building belongs to the public”.

The building has been empty for two-and-a-half years and he said the departure of AIB from the area “caused huge problems for local businesses” as the nearest bank was then 20 miles away.

The community group behind the campaign viewed the building on Friday to assess the facilities – and to officially place a bid of €1 for the property.

At a community meeting on Saturday evening, a number of ideas were put forward by locals for how the building could be used to benefit the local area.

“Some people spoke about opening a youth centre, or a family support centre, another idea was a cooperative to go with the tourism that is coming here because of the Wild Atlantic Way.”

“We have a lot of artists around here who do pottery, painting and a few people who write books. We could have a craft shop or something like that as a cooperative,” he said.

Mac Giolla Easbuig said young people in the area had themselves highlighted the need for a space for them to go where they could discuss issues like mental wellbeing and sexuality.

A place that isn’t just a youth club open two or three hours a few times a week.

And a family support centre, he said, would help address major issues around unemployment, mental health, suicide prevention and marriage difficulties in the area.

There are things that are hugely lacking in our community. The recession has just wrecked west Donegal.

The councillor said the estate agent at the viewing on Friday made note of their €1 bid, which will have to go through the usual process. However, there is understood to be some local interest in the building for private development.

AIB did not respond to a request for comment on the bid, or the suggestion that the bank band over the vacant building to the community.

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