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Airport closure restricts Garda chopper’s range

Enda Cunningham

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The closure of Carnmore Airport and its refuelling facility has led to restrictions on the operation of the Garda helicopter in Galway.

Volunteers involved in the search for a missing person along the Galway coastline earlier this month were told the flight time for the Garda chopper was reduced because refuelling in Galway was not an option.

Garda headquarters in Dublin have refused to comment, saying they “do not comment on operational matters”.

Meanwhile, the Department of Transport – which oversees Coast Guard operations – has said Search and Rescue operations in Galway have not been affected by the airport’s closure.

Talks are ongoing between the Chief Executives of the City and County Councils and representatives of Carnmore Aviation Ltd, which had been operating services at the airport until last December, when its lease expired.

A meeting took place last Thursday, at which “good progress” was made.

The two helicopters in the Garda Air Support Unit are operated by Air Corps pilots from Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnel, Dublin.

Earlier this month, the chopper took part in a search operation along the Galway coastline after travelling from Baldonnel, but searchers were told its flight time was restricted as no refuelling facility was available here.

Separately, the Department of Transport has said Coast Guard Search and Rescue (SAR) operations here are not affected by the lack of refuelling facility.

Following a series of queries from the Connacht Tribune, a spokesperson said: “Lack of refuelling facilities at Galway airport has not affected SAR operations adversely in the Galway area due to the range, endurance and speed of Sikorsky S92 helicopters, as refuelling facilities at Shannon are so close (30 miles or 12 minutes flying time between both locations).

“Sligo SAR helicopter has used refuelling facilities at Galway on a number of occasions last year, mostly to top up fuel tank on the completion of missions to Galway Hospital, Galway Airport being the nearest point to refuel for the return journey to Sligo base. Shannon refuelling facilities are 30 miles distant from Galway.

“Other instances where Sligo SAR helicopter has used Galway refuelling facilities is when on exercise and receive a tasking and Galway is nearer to refuel rather than returning to Shannon or Sligo to refuel.

“An example of an instance of diverting to Shannon for fuel rather than Galway for the Sligo SAR helicopter would be long range missions off the WNW coast.

“In this specific example, there would be a slight reduction in range or time on scene for the Sligo helicopter as the spare deck for the S92 would be Shannon, not Galway which is an additional distance of 30 miles or 12 minutes flying time,” the spokesperson said.

CITY TRIBUNE

€46,000 Lotto winner comes forward as deadline looms

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – The Knocknacarra winner of the Lotto Match 5 + Bonus from the 12th of December has come forward to claim their prize, just two weeks before the claim deadline.

The winning ticket, which is worth €46,234, was sold at Clybaun Stores on the Clybaun Road on the day of the draw, one of two winners of the Lotto Match 5 + Bonus prize of €92,000.

A spokesperson for the National Lottery say we are now making arrangements for the lucky winner to make their claim in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the Lotto jackpot for tomorrow night (27th February) will roll to an estimated €5.5 million.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Voice of ‘Big O’ reflects on four decades

Denise McNamara

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The daytime voice of Big O Taxis is celebrating four decades in the role – and she has no plans to hang up her headset any time soon.

Roisin Freeney decided to seek a job after staying at home to mind her three children for over a decade. It was 1981 when she saw an advert in the Connacht Sentinel for a dispatch operator.

The native of Derry recalls that the queue for the job wound its way past Monroe’s Tavern from the taxi office on Dominick Street.

“There was a great shortage of work back then. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the line of people. My then husband who was giving me a lift in never thought I’d get the job, he was driving on past and I said, let me off.

“I got it because I worked as a telephonist in the telephone exchange in Derry. But I was terrified starting off because I hadn’t been in the work system for so long.”

Back then Big O Taxis had only 25 drivers and just a single line for the public to book a cab.

“We had an old two-way radio, you had to speak to the driver and everybody could listen in. It was easy to leave the button pressed when it shouldn’t be pressed. People heard things they shouldn’t have – that’s for sure,” laughs Roisin.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Róisín’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Baby boom puts strain on Galway City secondary schools

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A baby boom in the late 2000s has left parents of sixth class pupils in Galway City scrambling to find a secondary school place for their children next September – with over 100 children currently facing the prospect of rejection from city schools.

The Department of Education is now rushing to address the issue and confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was fully aware of increasing pressure and demand on city schools

Local councillor Martina O’Connor said there were 100 more children more than there were secondary school places for next year, and warned that this would put severe pressure on schools to increase their intake numbers.

“This will put a lot of pressure on schools because they will have been working out the number of teachers and what resources they would need in October or November last year and they could be facing a situation where they will be asked to take an additional eight or 10 students.

“There would normally be a small excess – maybe two or three – but this year, it’s over 100. There is a bigger number of children in sixth class this year and there will be the same issue for the next few years,” said the Green Party councillor.

A Department spokesperson said while there were capacity issues, factors other than numbers could be at play, adding that there were approximately 1,245 children in the city due to move onto secondary school in September.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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