Tuesday, 18 December 2007


Local Buncrana Councillor Dermot McLaughlin drives a 2007 1.4 Opel Astra estate. The car has to be very versatile as it is used for work, leisure and off road expeditions. Dermot is chairperson of the Inishowen Wildlife Club and he often has to venture down muddy lanes. He was the first appointed Wildlife Ranger in Inishowen and was closely involved in setting up the Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) around Inishowen. He found that estate cars were perfect for life outdoors. Even in a torrential downpour he could sit in the back with the boot open to give shelter whilst observing seals or birds in comfort with a cup of tea on the go. Dermot also got into the habit of an estate car when he was transporting his projector and stuffed animals around the schools giving talks on wildlife. He mainly uses the boot of the Astra now to take his beloved English Setter, Chloe, out for walks.

How long have you had the car?
I bought it new earlier this year from Colm Dillon. I have had Opel estates before and have always been happy with them. Because of my work with environmental issues over the years I have always been conscious of vehicle emissions. The Astra has a low output of pollution because of its small 1.4 litre engine. All of the materials used to make the car are recyclable as well.

Any plans to change?
I have only just bought it so I have no plans to change just yet! I particularly like the Astra as it has a very good turning circle. I had a Peugeot 307 estate before this and it was difficult to get into my garage but I have no such problem with the Astra.

Is it reliable?
All of the Astras have been reliable. Since March the car has just had the regular services.

Best thing about the car?
The inner space is fantastic and perfect for carrying all of my equipment when I am out and about in the countryside. My dog loves the space in the back and is happy to see out of the windows when being chauffeured around. I also like the road clearance. The exhaust stays on when you go down rough roads!

How often do you wash it?
If there is any thing special going off it will get a power wash at the garage. My next special occasion will be the talk at Dunree Fort on the 16th of this month. Barry O’Donoghue will be talking about the Hen Harrier and other tag birds that come to the peninsula. (It starts at 8pm)

What would you do to help motorists given the chance?
There are so many! Road surface improvements for a start. Also, a well thought out infrastructure for towns would help ease the problem of bad manners on the road as this is mostly caused through frustration. Working towards easing parking problems in built up areas, reduce insurance, tax, and petrol prices. Need I go on?! There are loads of things that could be done to make it easier for motorists to accept the cost of car ownership.

What would you really like to be driving around in?
I think I have found the ideal car for my needs but I have noticed the Nissan Qashqai off road vehicle. That looks as though it has a good road clearance, I might give that a test-drive one day!

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