Tourists give wide berth to Portumna litter blackspot

Locked public toilets, fallen trees and litter drove tourists out of Portumna over Easter Weekend, and will continue to have a negative impact on the town during the summer, a local election candidate has warned.

Fianna Fáil candidate Anne Rabbitte has accused Galway County Council of taking a “hit and miss” approach to the upkeep of Portumna and Gort and the towns had become a “laughing stock”.

She said that many of the 35 camper vans in Portumna on Holy Saturday moved on the following day because the toilet block is closed.

Ms Rabbitte said that despite attempts to have litter and three fallen trees removed from the approach road to the swimming baths ahead of Easter Weekend, nothing was done.

“Both towns need immediate attention; the lacklustre and hit and miss approach by the various bodies and in particular the County Council is frustrating local tidy town personnel, town development companies and business people.

“But the real downside is that both towns are left with overgrown approach roads, weeds in the footpaths, not to mind fallen walls and trees on the approach to many areas of scenic, cultural and historic significance.

“At the weekend, I was approached by local businessman Donal O’Meara from SuperValu and informed that the toilets in the marina carpark were not open to the general public and likewise the toilets down at the swimming baths were also closed and that many of his camping customers were very unhappy with facilities,” said Ms Rabbitte.

She said there were 35 camper vans there on Holy Saturday, and many would have stayed two nights, but there were no facilities available to them, and they moved on.

“These people do their shopping when they arrive in town, they buy diesel, use the pharmacy, local hardware etc. This is a Council owned and maintained toilet block and at the start of the tourist season, it’s closed.

“Our business is tourism and with the loss of the Shannon Oaks, we must do everything in our power to bring in tourists, not the opposite. Having the public toilets open and the grass cut is the very minimum.

“Marie Gunning of the Tidy Towns and I met with a Council official to get three fallen trees on the approach road to the swimming baths cut and taken away along with repairing the road, the fence repaired and all the rubbish removed before the start Easter weekend, but regrettably this did not happen,” she said, pointing out that the fallen trees have been there for several months.

“A swimming area with no toilets and no showers; so we will be laughing stock of the area on the Lough Derg drive,” said Ms Rabbitte.