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2020 chief to address concerns before Galway City Council



Galway 2020 CEO Hannah Kiely has been invited to give Galway City Council an update on the status of the project, after serious concerns were raised in recent weeks.

She will appear before a specially-convened meeting on Tuesday evening to discuss what one former mayor has described as a “confidence crisis” at the heart of 2020 following the resignation of Artistic Director Chris Baldwin after 10 months in the job, and the failure to recruit a Business Engagement Director, a role understood to involve raising €7 million in private sector funding.

Ms Kiely, who is out of the country on business this week, had already accepted an invitation from Councillor Pádraig Conneely, Chair of the Strategic Policy Committee on Recreation, Amenity and Culture to attend an SPC meeting next Tuesday evening.

But last week, councillors voted to hold a special meeting of the City Council – replacing the SPC meeting – on the basis that democracy would be best served with a full meeting of members.

Cllr Conneely warned his fellow councillors against the vote saying they were interfering with the statutory rights of the SPC. He said he had worked hard pinning Ms Kiely down to a date which suited her to attend the meeting.

Cllr Donal Lyons, who proposed Ms Kiely would be invited to give the Council an update, reminded the meeting that when they had financially supported the bid, a commitment had been given that the local authority would get regular updates.

As that hadn’t happened, and Galway 2020 had recently lost their Artistic Director, he said the Council was due an update.

Cllr Conneely agreed, adding that he would extend an invite to all city councillors and senior executives to the SPC, which also has non-elected members representing various sections of the community.

Outgoing Mayor of Galway, Cllr Pearce Flannery stressed it should be a full council meeting, not just an SPC.

Cllr Niall McNelis said Galway 2020 was funded by public money and that the issue justified holding a special meeting of the council to hear an update from its CEO.

Cllr Mark Lohan said that following Tuesday’s meeting, Galway 2020 should give quarterly updates to the Council to keep councillors in the loop.

Galway 2020 had faded in the minds of the public, said Cllr Mike Cubbard. Cllr Mike Crowe also wanted to hear a general overview of how preparations for the event, which will see Galway as European City of Culture that year, were progressing.

Councillors voted 9 to 7 (two were absent) to replace tomorrow’s (Tuesday) SPC meeting with a full special meeting of the City Council.


Galway family’s light show adds magic to Christmas



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Carrick Family Light Show returns tonight (Friday) as 70,000 lights are illuminated in aid of a worthy local charity.

The man behind the lights spectacular, James Carrick, says test runs this week have proven successful and the family is ready to mark another Christmas in style.

“This is our fourth Christmas doing it. We started in 2019, but Covid was around for the last two years so it will be great this year not having to worry about that so much,” says James, who has spent the last few weeks carefully rebuilding the show at his home in Lurgan Park, Renmore.

He’s added “a few bits and pieces this year” – his brother buying the house next door has provided him a ‘blank canvas’ to extend.

Over the past three years, the show has raised almost €30,000 for local charities and James hopes to build on that this year – offering the light show for free, as always, and giving the opportunity to donate if people wish to do so.

The show runs nightly from 6.30pm, Monday to Saturday, with an extra kids show on Sundays at 5pm at 167 Lurgan Park (H91 Y17D). Donations can be made at the shows or by searching ‘idonate Carrick Family Light Show’ online.

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‘Chaos’ for Christmas as Martin junction works delayed again



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists attempting to get into Galway are facing a nightmare before Christmas as continued delays to the works at the Martin roundabout create traffic chaos on the east side of the city.

Anger over the controversial project to remove the roundabout at Galway Clinic intensified this week as the completion date was pushed out to February – nearly a year after works began and six months later than the supposed deadline.

Local councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) told the Galway City Tribune that he had lost all confidence in the Transport Department in the City Council and hit out at their “outsourcing the problem” to private contractors.

He said despite repeated representations from him, the local authority was refusing to take responsibility for the bedlam caused by the works, which he said had resulted in “three minor collisions in the last five weeks”.

“The bottom line is that this has been an absolute shambles and I’ve lost all faith in senior officials in City Hall. When I raised the issue again this week, I was accused of looking for newspaper headlines – they will not take responsibility,” said the City East councillor.

“It’s like an obstacle course up there, and now they’re saying February for completion. I’ve no confidence it will even be done by then – they’re out of their depth. If you look at what they’re saying, they say they’ll be doing the surfacing until February,” continued Cllr Cheevers, anticipating that works could still be ongoing next March or April.

In a statement issued by contractors Fox Building Engineers Ltd and Galway City Council, it was claimed that “supply chain issues” had impacted severely on the project.

Motorists this week reported delays of up to an hour just to travel the short distance from Briarhill Shopping Centre as far as the Doughiska Road-Dublin Road junction, a distance of less than 2km.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article,  see the December 2 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Councillors rubber stamp ‘temporary’ helipad after nine years in place



The helipad on the former Shantalla pitch.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Health Service Executive (HSE) came under fire over the ‘temporary’ helipad serving University Hospital Galway at a meeting to finalise the Galway City Development Plan for 2023-29.

Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, made a point of publicly highlighting his dissatisfaction with the HSE, calling on them to urgently “regularise” the planning permission for the helipad.
Speaking on the issue, Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) said that he mistrusted the HSE’s proposal concerning the helipad, saying that previous promises about the site had not been kept.

Currently, University Hospital Galway operates the helipad to transport medical emergencies on Council-owned land in Shantalla – it has been used for past nine years, despite the HSE saying it would be used for six months.

The temporary structure, the busiest helipad in Ireland, transports patients from as far north as Donegal to the hospital.

Councillors voted to change the Galway City Development Plan to provide for a helipad at this location but urged the HSE to normalise the planning permission at the site and to provide compensation to the local community for the loss of a section of the park.

Mr McGrath said that he wouldn’t “wait forever” for the HSE to bring the site in line with the planning laws.

Last month marked the ninth anniversary of when the Saolta University Hospital Group gave a commitment to the people of Shantalla about the public land it borrowed.

Tony Canavan, the then Chief Operating Officer, and now CEO of Saolta, said that the land would be used to accommodate a helipad at the rear of UHG for six months only.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article,  see the December 2 edition of the Galway City Tribune where there is extensive coverage of rezoning decisions under the City Development Plan. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.

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