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€30m bill for road repairs

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 21-Jan-2010

AN unprecedented scramble for money is about to be undertaken by Galway County Council as they embark on a monumental programme to repair the hundreds of miles of shredded roads following the recent freeze.

It is one of the biggest tasks ever facing the local authority as they are faced with a roads network which has deteriorated rapidly over the past fortnight – and at the moment they have a miniscule budget to deal with the grim situation.

In the short term Galway County Council is hoping that grants approved for specific roads projects can be redirected towards essential repairs to some of the main routes including the N17 and N18.

That appeared to get the green light from government on Tuesday when Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey confirmed to his Cabinet colleague Eamon O Cuiv that he would be giving a direction to Local Authorities that they will be allowed to prioritise funds from his Department towards surface restoration this year.

But Fine Gael Deputy Paul Connaughton saw this development in a different light, as Minister Dempsey admitted that the government would provide no extra money from central funds to deal with road repairs after the big freeze.

He said that Minister Dempsey confirmed yesterday to the Oireachtas Transport Committee, that he had no reserves to call upon in order to make extra funding available – Councils though could initially use 25% of their proposed annual roads allocation, for repairs as compared to the normal 10%.

“This will be woeful shock for Galway. We have 6,250kms. of county roads in need of repairs at an estimated cost of €30m. The County Council simply doesn’t have that money to spend,” he said. In any event, the restoration of the severely potholed roads will take some considerable time with some of the worst affected back roads not being treated for several years because of the financial constraints.

Director of Services, Frank Gilmore told The Connacht Tribune that it was vital that the Council has access to around €8 million immediately to proceed with urgent road restoration works.

Mr. Gilmore explained that all of the national primary and secondary roads had been seriously damaged by a combination of the end of year flooding followed by the freeze.

“We are currently in discussions with the Department of Transport and the NR A to give us the flexibility to use grants that have already been approved to carry out emergency works”, he said.

Mr. Gilmore said that the principal areas of concern were the national and other strategic routes within the county and it was vital to restore them to an acceptable standard as soon as possible.

While he couldn’t say at this stage what the roads restoration bill will be for the county’s fragmented roads, there is speculation that it could be in the region of €30 million.

Over the past week, councillors throughout the county have highlighted the serious damage to roads in their area and at the moment the local authority is carrying out emergency repairs with their limited financial resources.

Continued on page 2 of this week’s Connacht Tribune

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

Judy Murphy

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Ruby ready to rock again and Bob is worth a big flutter in Gold Cup

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 06-Mar-2013

New edge to Galway hurling championship title pursuit

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A battle of talent and the ability to pull in public votes

Bernie Ni Fhlatharta

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Date Published: 11-Mar-2013

Here is a question. And there is no holiday or grand prize for getting the answer. But can anyone name the people who have won The Voice of Ireland and what has become of them?

Over across the water in the UK they have The X Factor and while I hate the concept of it, it has produced a few stars even though they don’t last long in the whole scheme of things.

But The Voice of Ireland seems to generate false excitement with the winner ending up become more anonymous than they already were. And it is costing families a fortune in the process.

While the programme is a ratings winner, strangely, it has resulted in those getting through to the final stages investing huge amounts of money in the hope that they will receive enough votes to get through to the next stages.

So, suddenly, it is not about the voice or the talent involved, it is all about votes and who the participants can convince to pledge their support for them. So it is obvious that talent goes out the window.

It means that someone with half a talent could realistically win the whole thing if they generated enough support behind them. From now on, the judges will be taken out of the equation and it will be left to the public to generate income for some phone operator.

Those who get through to the live performances have to engage in a massive publicity campaign in an effort to win votes which makes this whole effort a pure sham. It is no longer about their ability and just an effort to win appeal.

While the initial process does involve some vetting of the acts, now it becomes a general election type exercise in which the most popular will win the competition and the judges will have no say whatsoever.

It is a bit like the recent Eurosong in which the judging panel across the country voted for their favourite song, which incidentally was the best of a very bad lot, but then this was overturned by the public who chose a relatively crap song to represent us.

But again, this was all down to convincing the public about who to vote for rather than having any bearing on the quality on offer. There are times that genuine talent becomes overlooked because of the need to extract money from the voting public.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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