The Marine Institute’s planned test site off the coast of An Spidéal has attracted a wave of opposition from concerned individuals and organisations.
A total of 557 submissions were lodged as part of the public consultation on the Galway Bay marine and renewable test energy site, it has been confirmed.
One local business has claimed the development has the potential to lead to 20 job losses, and local fishermen have also expressed concern that it will damage their livelihoods.
The family-run Park Lodge Hotel or Óstán na Páirce in An Spidéal “strongly” opposes the application for a 35-year foreshore lease.
“We have used Galway Bay at Park Lodge Hotel as a unique selling point in promoting our hotel over the past 36 years. We are concerned if this application is approved our business will suffer and result in a loss of 20 jobs for local people.
“This is unacceptable and consequently must not be allowed to happen as it will impact the wider tourism industry, which over the past two to three years has grown due to the Wild Atlantic Way,” the hotel’s submission reads.
A father and son fishermen duo, who operate a prawn trawler in the area, and have done since the 1960s, is also opposing the application.
The objector, whose name has been redacted, said they fish for prawns to the north, south, east and west of the site in question, and “not just to the west of it as the Marine Institute state in their application.”
“We lost a considerable amount of prosperous fishing ground when the original lease was granted without our knowledge in 2006, when we agreed to a site further to the southeast,” the submission reads.
It adds: “Our concern is that if a new lease is granted, the holders will increase the area of the site or God forbid seek an exclusion zone around the site without our knowledge just like ten years ago. If this were to happen it would mean considerable financial loss to our vessels, crews and families.”
Fishermen on the Aran Islands have also objected to the location of the test site, due to the potential negative impacts on prawn fishing.
“I am writing to you expressing a major concern in relation to the site location of this project,” said Sean Griffin, General Manager of Galway and Aran Fishermen’s CO-OP ltd.
“I believe that the project is worthwhile but the site location could be changed. It would not need to be changed drastically, possibly a mile or so further near Galway. The reason for the issue with the current proposed location is that it is in the middle of prawn grounds that a number of smaller trawlers fish during the year. This number has become more significant as the catches have increased in this area in the last two years.
“Surveys carried out by the Marine Institute show a high density of prawns in this location. I would propose that the Marine Institute sit down with the boats who are members of Galway and Aran Co-Op in order for them to determine what areas are fishing grounds and which are not, in this area.”
Fianna Fáil Galway County Councillor, Seán Ó Tuairisg, in his submission as Gaeilge, simply called for a public hearing into the application.
Scores of private individuals made submissions as part of the process, as well as organisations such as An Taisce, Friends of the Earth, University of Sussex, Environmental Action Alliance, Clare County Council, Fáilte Ireland and Coastal Concern Alliance.
Concerns raised – as summarised by the authorities – include incorrect information, vague information about economic benefits, misleading information, a conflict of interest and lack of impartiality of Minister Simon Coveney, no Environmental Impact Statement, inadequate information about the impact the site will have on the environment, confusion over whether it will be connected to the national grid, the 35-year lease is too long, it is too close to the shoreline, noise pollution, general pollution, there was insufficient consultation, it will impact on tourism along the Wild Atlantic Way, and it poses risks to birds, marine mammals, fish and general wildlife.
Minister Coveney will be advised by the Marine Vetting Licensing Committee, and will then make a decision on the application.
Man on assault charges after allegedly coughing at Tesco workers
A 33-year-old man appeared in custody before Galway District Court this morning on assault charges after allegedly coughing in the direction of two Tesco workers yesterday.
Konrad Prokopczyk, a Polish national who resides with his sister at 70 Esker Hills, Ballinasloe, was arrested by Garda David Sheffield at 5pm on Sunday afternoon at Tesco in Ballinasloe, and brought to the local Garda Station where he was later charged with assaulting both employees, with breaching the peace and with giving a false and misleading name and address.
Garda Sheffield said the accused replied “I didn’t do it” when charged with giving a false name and address and made no reply to the other charges.
Garda Sheffield objected to a possible bail application under the “O’Callaghan rules”, citing the seriousness of the alleged offences and the possibility he may reoffend.
“He showed no remorse and thought the offences funny and was laughing at the two injured parties who are employees at Tesco,” Garda Sheffield told Judge Marie Keane.
Defence solicitor, Martina Moran, who was appointed to represent Prokopczyk under the free legal aid scheme, applied for bail.
She said her client had no previous convictions or outstanding warrants and would abide by any bail conditions set by the court.
Ms Moran said her client was a Polish national who had been in the country for two years and had recently been laid off from his job.
Sergeant Aoife Curley, prosecuting, again objected to bail, saying: “He didn’t seem to be respectful to the Government guidelines regarding Covid-19 and showed no respect for the employees.
“The allegations are he coughed in the direction of both employees and showed no remorse afterwards. There is a fear this type of behaviour might happen again,” she said.
Ms Moran said her client was very aware now of the seriousness of the current situation and was notified of the consequences.
Judge Keane said it was with the greatest of reluctance that she would grant Prokopczyk bail.
“It’s utterly despicable,” she added before remanding the accused on bail to appear before Ballinasloe District Court next Thursday, April 2.
Bail was granted on condition he continue to reside at his address, observe a nightly curfew between 8pm and 8am, comply with Covid-19 Government guidelines, provide a mobile phone number to Gardai to be answered at all times, and not enter any retail outlet of any description during the current emergency.
Government publishes list of ‘essential service providers’
The Government has this evening published the list of essential service providers who are permitted to travel to and from work during the lockdown until April 12.
The following is the guidance issued:
What employers should do
- refer to this guidance to decide whether your organisation is providing an essential service; it is not necessary to seek official authorisation
- if you are providing an essential service, you should identify those employees (including sub-contractors etc) who are essential to the provision of that service and notify them (this can be done by category of employee or by individual; it could include all employees of the organisation)
- if you are providing an essential service, latest public health guidance should be followed at all times
What employees should do
- if your employer notifies you that you are an essential employee, or that you belong to a category of essential employees, you are permitted to travel to and from work
- when travelling to and from work, you should at all times bring with you either a work identification or a letter from your employer indicating that you are an essential employee, as well as one other form of identification
- If you are self-employed, a farmer or agricultural worker, or a member of the clergy, you should carry one form of identification with you at all times.
If you are a volunteer who is working as part of the national community response, you are permitted to travel for that purpose, eg if you are delivering food, supplies or medicine to a person who is cocooned or vulnerable. The Local Government emergency response teams will co-ordinate that response at local level.
Business Continuity and Resilience
All organisations who provide essential services should have business continuity and resilience plans in place. This should take account of the possibility that key workers or key facilities may be impacted by COVID-19.
Non Essential Services
If you are not engaged in the provision of essential services, then you are not permitted to travel to and from work until April 12th 2020.
There will be a grace period until 6pm on Monday March 30th for people who need to make necessary arrangements to wind down their activities in an orderly way. This should however be done in a way that minimises travel and personal interaction as much as possible.
In exceptional circumstances, it is accepted that some extra time will be needed for a wind down of activity, or necessary for a site to continue to operate at a reduced level of activity eg in complex manufacturing processes or very large construction projects.
This Guidance will be kept under ongoing review, and will be updated as required.
Services provided in the following areas are considered to be essential:
Agriculture & Fishing
- farm labourers
- farm relief service workers,
- others involved directly or indirectly in crop and animal production and related activities (including veterinary services), and workers involved in fishing
- the manufacture of food and beverage products
- the manufacture of prepared animal feeds
- the manufacture of work-wear apparel or footwear
- the manufacture of pulp, paper and paperboard and wood;
- the printing and reproduction of newspapers and other media services
- the manufacturing of coke and refined petroleum products
- the manufacturing of alumina; chemicals and chemical products
- the manufacture of pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations
- the manufacture of products necessary for the supply chain of essential services; computer, electronic and optical products including semi-conductors; electrical equipment, machinery and other equipment (including agricultural and forestry machinery); medical devices; and medical and dental equipment and supplies.
Repair and installation of Machinery and Equipment
- the supply, repair and installation of machinery and equipment and industrial machinery and equipment for essential services
Electricity, Gas & Water
- electric power generation, transmission and distribution
- extraction and distribution of gas;
- water collection, treatment and supply
- sewerage; waste collection, remediation activities and other waste management treatment and disposal activities
- essential health and related projects relevant to the COVID-19 crisis, and supplies necessary for such projects;
- repair/construction of critical road and utility infrastructure
- delivery of emergency services to businesses and homes on an emergency call-out basis in areas such as electrical, plumbing, glazing and roofing.
Wholesale and Retail Trade
- retail services in accordance with the separate “Updated Essential Retail Outlets ” list;
- wholesale and distribution services necessary for the sale of food, beverages, fuel, medicines, medical products and devices and essential household products; takeaways and food delivery services
Transport Storage and Communication
- land transport (e.g. bus, rail and taxi services)
- road, rail, sea and air freight
- sea and air passenger services; ports and airports
- warehousing and support activities for transportation including cargo-handling; postal and courier activities; network control and critical maintenance (including roads); and safety related functions
Accommodation and Food Services
- hotels or similar providing essential accommodation (including homeless, direct provision and related services)
- food and beverage service activities in accordance with the separate the essential retail outlets listlist or for supply to a business engaged in an essential service
Information and Communications
- the publishing of newspapers, journals and periodicals as well as video, television programme production, sound recording, radio and television broadcasting; wired and satellite and telecommunications activities; internet and cloud providers; data centres and related services.
Financial and legal activities
- banking and financial services (including banks, credit unions and post offices)
- accountancy, legal and insurance services necessary to support essential services and vulnerable people
Professional, Scientific and Technical activities
- engineering, technical testing activities and analysis
- scientific research and development activities
- regulation, inspection and certification services necessary to support essential services
Rental and Leasing Activities
- rental and lease of cars
- light motor vehicles and trucks necessary to support the provision of essential services.
Administrative and Support Services
Where necessary to support other essential services:
- employment placement and human resources associated with the recruitment and deployment of workers
- security activities to assist in the delivery of essential services and the securing of premises closed to the public
- cleaning of buildings and industrial cleaning activities; business support activities which are necessary to support essential services included on this list; payroll and payment services necessary for the operation of businesses; data processing, hosting and related activities.
Public Administration and Defence
Public administration activities necessary to support essential services and provision of social protection benefits (including Civil Service and Local Government);
- An Garda Siochana, Garda Staff and the Garda Reserve
- public order, safety, fire service and ambulance activities
- the Defence Forces;
- emergency call answering service to ensure administration of justice;
- Prison services and Child Detention services
- regulatory processes and certification required to ensure supply chains, food, medicine and general process safety
- operation of botanical gardens, parks, forests and nature reserves
- funeral services
- religious personnel
- office-holders and public representatives
Human health and social work activities
- hospital services
- paramedical and essential therapy activities
- public health activities (including all those deployed to contract tracing and COVID-19 testing services)
- laboratory services
- drug treatment and addiction services
- hospice services
- pharmacy services
- primary care, general and specialist medical practice activities provided by public and private providers
- emergency dental practice activities
- blood donation service
- residential care activities (including nursing care, mental health and substance abuse, elderly and persons with disabilities, children’s residential services)
- homecare home help and other community services
- social work and social care activities (including disability services, mental health, child protection and welfare, domestic, sexual and gender based violence, homeless services including outreach)
- ambulance/pre-hospital emergency care services
- minor injury units
- maternity services
- health, social work, environmental, food safety regulatory activities
- community and voluntary workers, working in a publicly commissioned service, not otherwise included on the list, deployed to assist in the delivery of essential services *volunteer services operating under the local authority emergency management framework in accordance with public health guidance
Connemara native goes online for revision courses and online weekly classes
Julie Kilmartin, from the Heart of the Gaeltacht in Connemara has switched all of their Easter Revision Courses to online access commencing early April 2020. Julie watched the crisis unfold in Italy and realized that the closure of Irish schools was only a matter of time. The week prior to the closure, Julie contacted her team of excellent teachers and requested that they prepare to record the courses in advance. Incredibly, the majority of teachers responded and agreed.
Upon the announcement of school closures, with the uncertainty of Easter and schools still been closed, Julie and her team made the decision to switch all courses online. Time was critical if these courses could be rolled out, online for early April.
According to Julie Kilmartin- this is simply a mammoth task. We have so many courses on offer and to record professionally in a very limited period is going to be incredibly demanding. However, we are delighted with our progress and we are on target. I have to pay tribute to our Amazing Team of Teachers and Wendigo Medial from Limerick. We are currently recording 10 hours per day, 7 days a week. Our college in Limerick has turned into a Mini Hollywood Set!
Kilmartin Educational Services will offer a Comprehensive Revision Course Package for both Junior and Leaving Certificate students. Students will have full access to all recorded courses. These courses are ideal in this current COVID-19 crisis where students must stay at home. Now students can access Revision of Vital Exam Topics at the click of a button with the ability to Revise – Rewind- from the comfort of their home with the back up of revision notes for every course.
Julie Kilmartin is responding to the needs of Junior and Leaving Cert. students. Together in Separation where we are physically distanced and digitally connected. Julie is bringing her Amazing team of students to the homes of Irish students in April 2020.
Students can access these Packages for only €300- full access to everything recorded within Revision Course Package. Full details available at: https://www.kes.ie/easter-2020
Kilmartin Educational Services also are rolling our weekly LIVE and Pre recorded tuition classes for students in a variety of key subjects. Full details: https://www.kes.ie/onlinegrinds