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130km/h gusts forecast as Storm Gertrude hits Galway

Enda Cunningham

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Met Éireann has upgraded a wind warning for overnight tonight to ‘Status Orange’, with gusts of up to 130km/h expected to batter Galway, as Storm Gertrude arrives.

Although tides are not as high as earlier this week, there is potential for flooding in Salthill and other coastal areas, caused by overlapping of the sea.

Galway City Council has warned motorists to move their cars from carparks in Salthill as soon as possible.

Southwesterly winds, which will later veer westerly, will increase 65 to 80km/h overnight and will gist 110 to 130km/h at times. The strongest winds will be in western and northern coastal areas.

The warning is in effect from midnight tonight (Thursday) until 9am tomorrow.

“A rapidly deepening Atlantic depression will pass to the north of Scotland during Friday. It will bring a swathe of severe winds across Ireland, Scotland and northern England through Thursday night and Friday.
“Orange-status warnings have been issued by both Met Éireann and the UK Met Office for their respective areas of responsibility. The storm has been named Gertrude,” Met Éireann said.

High tide is at 8.16am tomorrow, with a tide reaching 4.6 metres – significantly below the 5m ‘danger mark’ for Galway – and lower than the 5.1m recorded last Tuesday morning in the Salthill floods.

A City Council warning reads: “The Council advises people with vehicles parked there to remove them as soon as possible. The worst of the weather is due on Sunday afternoon through to Monday.

“Later on this evening (Thursday ) will also be windy, with a possibility of flooding in Toft Car Park and the Prom. The Prom may be closed for periods over the weekend, but Galway City Council will monitor the situation. People are also advised not to leave their cars in either of the car parks along the Prom.”

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is advising all road users today to take extreme care.

The RSA also advises road users to:
• Beware of objects being blown out onto the road and to expect the unexpected. In particular watch out for falling/fallen debris on the road and vehicles veering across the road.
• Control of a vehicle may be affected by strong cross winds. High sided vehicles and motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to strong winds.
Drivers should allow extra space around vulnerable road users such as cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists as they may be blown off course by strong winds.
Use dipped headlights at all times of poor visibility not parking/side lights and fog lights.
• Pedestrians should take extra care when crossing the road and cyclists when cycling in traffic as a sudden gust of wind could blow you into the path of an oncoming vehicle.
• Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are advised to be seen. Wear bright clothing with reflective armbands or a reflective belt.
Pedestrians should walk on a footpath, not in the street. Walk on the right hand side of the road, facing traffic if there are no footpaths.

Connacht Tribune

Covid lockdown returns for Kildare, Laois and Offaly

Enda Cunningham

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The Government has announced localised lockdowns for people living in Kildare, Laois and Offaly, following a surge in Covid-19 cases over the past week.

People from outside of those counties have been asked not to travel their unless for work or essential travel.

The restrictions affect travel, pubs, restaurants, swimming pools and cinemas.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the clusters of new cases were of serious concern and described the restrictions as “limited”.

“Over the past 14 days 292 cases of Covid-19 have arisen in Kildare, Laois and Offaly. These represent almost half of all cases detected in Ireland during that time.

“These measures are being put in place to protect the vulnerable in these counties as well as to stop the spread of the virus.

They are in place for two weeks from midnight tonight (Friday) until midnight on Friday, August 20. The situation will then be reviewed,” the Taoiseach said.

Travel and transport

You can only travel within your county, other than for the following reasons:

  • to travel to and from work where that work cannot be done from home
  • to attend medical appointments, collect medicines and other health products
  • for vital family reasons, like providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people, but excluding social family visits
  • for farming purposes, food production or care of animals

You should not travel into any of these counties, other than for the reasons above, and you need to travel through these counties to get somewhere else. You should not stop in Kildare, Laois or Offaly unless for essential purposes.

Public and private transport

You should not use public transport unless it is absolutely necessary to do so, and where possible you should not share private vehicles with others from outside your household.

Education and childcare

The following services remain open with appropriate protective measures in place:

  • education and childcare
  • outdoor playgrounds, play areas and parks
  • Economic activity and work
  • Anyone in these counties who can work from home should work from home.

Social

Cafes and restaurants

  • All cafes and restaurants, including bars operating as restaurants, should only offer takeaway or delivery, or outdoor dining (maximum 15 people with strict physical distancing).
  • Hotels can remain open but must limit occupancy to essential non-social and non-tourist reasons. Existing guests can remain for the duration of their booking.

Indoor gatherings

  • All indoor gatherings should be restricted to a maximum of 6 people from no more than 3 households in total, while maintaining physical distancing.

Outdoor gatherings

  • Outdoor gatherings should be limited to a maximum of 15 people, while maintaining physical distancing.

Cultural and religious

  • All cinemas, theatres, casinos, betting shops, bingo halls, gyms, leisure centres, swimming pools, exercise and dance studios are required to close.
  • Attendance at a funeral service and burial or cremation ceremony should be limited to 25 outdoors. Indoor events connected to the funeral are limited to a maximum of 6 people.
  • Places of worship remain open for private prayer, while services are to be held online.

Sport

No sporting events or matches should take place, with the following exemptions:

  • non-contact training outdoors in a maximum group of 15 people may continue
  • professional and elite sports and horse-racing may continue behind closed doors
  • inter-county training (max 15 people) and fixtures may continue behind closed doors

Residential and healthcare facilities

*Visiting in long-term residential care facilities, acute settings and prisons will generally be suspended in the first instance with the exception of the most critical and compassionate circumstances (for example end of life).

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CITY TRIBUNE

Footfall down by 80% in Galway city centre

Stephen Corrigan

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Shop Street on Ladies Day of the Galway Races

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Footfall in the city centre was down by about 80% during what would normally be a bumper three weeks in the city, with this year’s Arts Festival and Summer Racing Festival both falling foul of Covid-19 restrictions.

Data compiled by the Galway City Business Association (GCBA) – which is a measure of mobile phone users at various points in the city centre – shows that there were over half a million fewer movements recorded during Race Week this year, representing around a 77% decline on the same week in 2019.

While the figures are by no means a conclusive count of individuals in the city, they do provide a good guide as to how many people are traversing the main thoroughfares over an extended period.

During the second week of the Arts Festival in 2019, just short of 900,000 movements were recorded in what was the city’s single busiest seven days of the year.

However, with the absence of the Big Top and various other Arts Festival venues this year, just over 150,000 movements were recorded in the same week this year.

Well-known city businessman and GCBA member Anthony Ryan said that the situation was gradually improving, but it was obviously a very different Race Week this year.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council orders removal of new footbridge

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The installation of a footbridge over the Middle River at Newtownsmyth has led Galway City Council to warn the adjacent property owner to remove the structure, or face legal proceedings.

Property developer John Curley, who owns the commercial unit involved at Abhainn na mBradán, has received instruction from City Hall to have the bridge removed by today (Friday) in what the Galway City Tribune understands is being treated as a ‘extremely serious breach’ of planning regulations.

Mr Curley told this newspaper that the €25,000 bridge could not be removed this week as his architect was on holidays, and he was still considering what to do about the Council’s order.

Mr Curley said businessman Eric Furey had opened a new café in the building two weeks ago – the building also houses Born Clothing and Papa Rich restaurant.

The bridge had been installed to coincide with the opening of Roots Café and both Mr Curley and Mr Furey argued that it was crucial to the business’ survival that there was access from the busy canal walkway.

“We are going to fight this,” said Mr Curley, adding that it had been their intention to seek retention for the bridge, but that had been ruled out by city planners who refused to give permission to utilise public land on the far side of the canal.

A spokesperson for Galway City Council said: “Immediately on becoming aware of the installation of this structure across the canal, Galway City Council Planning Department requested the immediate removal of the structure.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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