Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal Charlie McConalogue has said the allocation of 2 additional staff to Glenveagh National Park is nowhere near sufficient to address the significant staff shortages at the park or to reflect the surge in visitor numbers.
Last year 176,444 people visited Glenveagh National Park – the highest number on record – however, staffing levels have fallen year on year since 2012, with only 43 permanent and temporary staff now employed compared to 51 in 2012.
“Glenveagh is one of the jewels in Donegal’s crown but it has been ignored by this Government. The figures speak for themselves. Year on year, visitor numbers to the park are growing at an incredible rate – a testament to the job staff are doing despite their reduced numbers”, said Deputy McConalogue.
“I have been raising the issue of the need for the additional resources at Glenveagh with the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs over the past number of months and spent a day at the park to meet with staff and assess its needs first hand. I find it unacceptable that the Government and its representatives locally are trying to sell the recent allocation of 2 additional staff for the park as a success when the reality is that the park is straining at the seams to cope with the tremendous workload being placed on staff there.
“For example, there are currently four vacant full time positions and one vacant seasonal position in the Castles gardening team meaning that it is short of one craft gardener, three general operatives and one seasonal horticultural assistant. This shortage will simply makes it impossible for staff to continue to maintain the Garden to standard that is expected.
“In 2012 there were 117,557 visitors to Glenveagh, with 51 staff working there. Last year saw the highest visitor numbers on record – at 176,444 – yet staff levels had dropped to 43. This year Glenveagh is on course to exceed its record visitor numbers, with 94,809 people having already passed through the gates, an increase of almost 20,000 visitors on the same period last year. Yet only 2 additional staff have been secured to manage this increased activity. This is simply not enough to relieve the workload of the existing staff and provide the best possible experience for visitors.
“Additional resources are required to maintain and develop the full potential of one of the cornerstones of Donegal tourism and I will continue to press this matter until the needs of the Park are properly addressed”, concluded Deputy McConalogue.