Anger in Offaly as local company loses bike hire service at Lough Boora

Offaly Express Reporter

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Offaly Express Reporter

Anger in Offaly as local company loses bike hire service at Lough Boora

Anger in Offaly as local company loses bike hire service at Lough Boora

There is anger in Offaly today a local company loses bike hire service at Lough Boora to a bike hire service from Dublin. 

Lough Boora Rent-a-bike has been operating at the tourist attraction for 11 years and was operating long before the site gained the level of popularity it has now. 

However they were told in a phone call on Friday that they could not run the service any more because the license to operate bike hire at Lough Boora had gone to a company from Dublin.

In a post on Facebook, Pat Barrett, the man behind Lough Boora Rent-a-bike stated:

"With a heavy heart, I have decided to air my feelings since I was told through a phone call on Friday morning that I was not allowed to run the bicycle hire service anymore, a service that me and my family started up 11 years ago," Pat Barrett said.

"This news came about after a tendering process that we were not successful in," he added.

"I want to thank everyone that has shown me and my family massive support since Friday morning through phone calls messages and on Facebook. I thought things could not get much worse until today I found out that the bicycle hire was given to the biggest bicycle hire service in Ireland, namely CK Cycles in the Phoenix Park, Dublin," he claimed.

"So much for trying to keep jobs locally. Looking at the whole process of tendering, I was never going to get it. Thanks to everyone again for all the support over the last 11 years," Pat vented.

The company has received an outpouring of support from the community at large with hundreds of people commenting to express their support. 

Here are just a small selection of the comments

- "What hope had you going up against a big company like that. And well they knew it too. I am so sorry this has happened to you. You genuinely brought people to boora before many knew it was even a tourist hot-spot. They will go a long long way to find a local family run business like yourselves, always a pleasure to deal with and so kind and accommodating to everyone. I wish you and your family well. If I had a choice of renting a bike from you or them I'd choose you over and over. If only you could open a little bit up the road the locals would support you over an outsider any day. I'll be boycotting them for sure."

- "I am very sorry to hear this. We donated several bicycles to you when our kids had outgrown them. We will not be supporting your replacement."

- "I'm so sorry to hear this. You were such an important part of building Boora into a place to visit and the tourist destination it has become. It was great to see you develop from the small beginning in the little hut by the lake. I know it's devastating to have your business wiped out like that."

- "So sorry, we always loved how nice and helpful ye were, my girls loved how nice ye were helping them with their bikes. Absolute disgrace"

- "This is so wrong , you were always so good to us and had great patience with the kids when picking bikes .. won’t be getting any bikes from that new crowd."

- "Devastating news it's an absolute disgrace they should be ashamed of themselves well I hope no 1 goes near them for a bike I'm so sorry to hear this pat the likes of yourself and your family will never be got again the nicest people on this earth bord na móna Hope your proud of your decision you officially destroyed boora."

A campaign has started to boycott the new hire service. See more details by clicking here

POLITICAL REACTION

Deputy Barry Cowen said is seeking an urgent meeting with Bord Na Mona to discuss the fallout.

Deputy Cowen said he offered his "unwavering support" to Mr Barrett, adding, "the contribution of Pat’s business to the success of the Lough Boora Parkland cannot be underestimated.

"Pat’s business first started attracting visitors to the parkland and his professionalism, huge knowledge of the facility, its history and its significance to the locality meant that they returned time and time again.

“I believe the tender was awarded to a large bike rental company who operate nationally. This is not in the spirit of supporting local business and a just transition. If we are serious about rural Ireland and rural communities, we must support our small local enterprise," Deputy Cowen added.

“I contacted Pat over the weekend and we agreed to remain in contact in our efforts to seek rectification. We are all shocked, dismayed, bemused and angered by such a decision or process that could do this. I assure Pat of my support and I’m sure of all public reps support irrespective of their politics, and assistance in whatever has to be or can be done to challenge this."

In relation to Bord na Mona, Cowen commented: “I will contact the Bord Na Mona authorities immediately to voice my disbelief and shock while questioning whether tender procedures were properly enforced and if appropriate weight was given to Pat’s long years of service, local knowledge and the dedication, commitment and love he has shown to building up Lough Boora Parklands as a destination. I truly believe that Pat’s business is the best fit for the area and will urge them to reconsider,” he concluded.

Independent TD Carol Nolan also lent her voice in support of Pat over the weekend. 

"I'm very disappointed to hear of the latest move by Bord na Mona over the weekend in relation to the bicycle hire business built up over the past 11 years through hard work, dedication and commitment by Pat Barrett. It doesn’t seem right or fair that Pat didn’t get an opportunity to continue doing the great work he did over a period of 11 years," she commented.

"I can honestly say as a mother who brought my children to Lough Boora to cycle when they were small, Pat was professional, polite and always had a great way about him. The kids always remembered Pat’s kindness and, of course, the free can of Fanta or Coke that they got when they left their bicycles back to the shed.

"My kids, just like many, many others in our county and beyond still hold fond memories of Pat years later. This latest move by Bord na Mona has angered people and has caused much frustration and hurt in our community which is currently undergoing a so-called ‘Just Transition,’ a process that has created no jobs to date. It would appear that decent, hard working local people are not part of Bord na Mona’s transition or indeed any future plans.

"I have contacted Pat over the weekend and will be taking this matter up directly with Bord na Mona to check whether the tendering process was followed correctly and even if it was followed legally. It most certainly wasn’t followed morally or decently. Many of us in this community will not accept the despicable behaviour of Bord na Mona which has stooped to a new low," Deputy Nolan concluded.