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An Taisce disappointed Council did not purchase former school

Francis Farragher



An Taisce have expressed disappointment that the City Council didn’t make an effort to buy the old Piscatorial School at the Claddagh – there has been considerable speculation this week that the property has been bought by a local developer.

The listed building – dating back to the mid-1800s – is owned by the Dominican Order and last year the Council had been in discussions with them to secure a five-year lease on the property.

However, according to the Council, the Order opted earlier this year to go down the road of a straight sale on the building, with a €500,000 guide price outlined by agents DVA Donal Ó Buachalla and Power & Associates.

However, in a letter to Galway An Taisce Chair, Derrick Hambleton, the Council outlined that they were ‘currently precluded’ from raising loans in relation to the purchase of buildings and were therefore not in a position to make an offer for the property.

Mr Hambleton told the Galway City Tribune that An Taisce were ‘extremely disappointed’ the local authority hadn’t made any effort to purchase the building at a time when €7 million of public monies was being ‘poured’ into the arthouse cinema.

“It will be an incredible loss to the city if this building is lost to the commercial sector. The Piscatorial School building would be a perfect location to highlight the cultural heritage of the Claddagh and its links to the Eglinton Canal and the Claddagh Basin,” said Mr Hambleton.

He added that he was also ‘extremely disappointed’ that the Dominican Order hadn’t even bothered to acknowledge correspondence received from An Taisce seeking a meeting with them as regards the future of the building.

“I don’t really know whether the building has been sold off or not but if it has, it will be a major loss to the culture of the city and to the general community,” said Mr Hambleton.

Senior Executive Officer for Arts and Culture with the City Council, Gary McMahon, wrote to An Taisce early last month, outlining how they had in 2015 tried to secure a lease [minimum five years] of the building from the Dominicans.

“Our intention was to link the former school with our emerging plans in relation to the development of a museum/cultural quarter to form a triangle of interest from the City Museum and the Spanish Arch to the Fisheries Tower, the school and the Claddagh Basin,” Mr McMahon stated in his letter.

He said that this would have ‘allowed a wonderful opportunity’ to highlight and enhance the significant local history and heritage of the Claddagh into an overarching programme of heritage interest in the city.

The Piscatorial School [the name comes from matters relating to fishing] – located beside Claddagh Church – dates back to 1846 when the Dominicans built it for the purpose of educating local children in literacy as well as practical skills such a making fishing nets and sewing.

By the early 1900s, it was functioning as a conventional primary school while in more recent times it housed the city’s social welfare office for a number of years and was also used as a vocational training centre.

The Galway City Tribune could not get confirmation of the property being sold off to a private developer although there was considerable speculation this week that a local company – specialising in apartment conversions and constructions – had acquired the iconic building.


Hospital worker failed to self isolate after trip to red-list country

Francis Farragher



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Management at University Hospital Galway have been asked to investigate ‘as a matter of urgency’ an allegation that a security employee at the hospital returned to work within the 14-day restriction period after coming back from a ‘red-list’ country.

The person has already worked at least two shifts at the hospital – including looking after an elderly patient – despite the fact that the restriction period would not have expired until this Sunday, September 20.

The Galway City Tribune can reveal that in a letter from SIPTU official to a senior UHG manager, it is alleged there was breach of protocol over recent days by an employee of an outsourced security company.

According to the letter to Services Manager Geoff Ginnety, while the worker was not covered under HSE employee rules, “they still must comply with the Government issued protocols”.

The letter from SIPTU states that the worker in question had told his colleagues that he was in a red-listed country and that ‘he did not have to restrict his movements’ for 14 days and could return to work.

“I request that you [Services Manager at UHG] address these concerns as a matter of urgency and provide clear guidance on how to deal with the issue,” the SIPTU letter states.

According to information accessed by the Galway City Tribune, the employee in question returned from a red-listed country on September 6 last and underwent a test for Covid-19 five days later on September 11.

Shortly after that, according to his employers, the results of his Covid tests came back as negative. The Galway City Tribune understands that he returned to his night-shift work on Tuesday night, September 15, and also worked the Wednesday night shift of September 16.

This newspaper has also been informed by reliable sources that on his first night back on duty the employee was left in charge of an elderly patient, while on his second night back at work, he was dutied to the Emergency Department.

When contacted by the Galway City Tribune, a spokesperson for the HSE said that they could not comment on issues relating to individual staff.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Leisureland sinks with €20,000 per week losses

Dara Bradley



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The plug is being pulled on Leisureland – leaving hundreds of swimmers, mostly children, and trainee lifeguards, high and dry.

Galway Salthill Fáilte CLG, the company that operates the publicly-owned facility, has confirmed it plans to shut down its swimming pool and gym, leaving members of six aquatic clubs, hundreds of schoolchildren, and the general public, without an amenity for the foreseeable future.

Swimming clubs fear they will lose a whole generation of young swimmers in Galway if the pool closes. And they have warned that it could end up costing €1 million to repair and reopen the pool after a prolonged closure.

Leisureland blamed the impact of coronavirus for its financial woes, with losses running at an average of €20,000 per week.

The company said that by August it had already spent its annual €300,000 subsidy subvention from Galway City Council, and the local authority has indicated it is not in a position to increase the subsidy further in 2020.

The planned closure – which could result in the furloughing of over 20 staff from next month – has shocked the local aquatic community.

A lengthy hiatus with Leisureland closed will mean Galway will lose a ‘whole generation’ of swimmers, according to Eamon Caulfield, President of Galway Swimming Club and member and former chairperson of Corrib Water Polo Club.

“We’re particularly upset and aggrieved that this is going ahead, it’s shocking. They should be looking to reverse this decision,” he said this week.

The majority of the five aquatic clubs that use the facility (Galway SC, Shark SC, Laser SC and Tribes and Corrib water polo clubs) are made up of children aged 10-18, including some international athletes. Hundreds of children from Galway schools also learn to swim there.

A water safety group has been using the pool every Sunday morning since it opened in 1973, he said.

“Historically it is where Galway gets its lifeguards from. How can you not have swim lessons in a public pool? How can you not have water safety taught in a pool in Galway?

“It beggars belief, we’re on the sea. The water safety people, where are they going to go, how are we going to get lifeguards for beaches? How are we going to get teachers for teaching swimming?” asked Mr Caulfield.

The clubs have roughly 150 members each and generate €150,000 revenue annually for Leisureland.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full version, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Galway Gardaí get more than 1,000 house party calls

Francis Farragher



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway Gardaí have responded to more 1,000 house calls relating to house parties during the pandemic from mid-March to early September – the vast majority of them in the city area, it was revealed this week.

Chief Superintendent, Tom Curley, told the Galway City Tribune, that the figures for house party Garda call-outs were ‘startling’ and a source of major concern.

“This is a no-brainer. For anyone thinking of a house party, the simple message is – don’t do it. A serious amount of Garda time is now being spent dealing with house-party related incidents,” he said.

Between March 18 and September 1 this year, the Galway Garda Division responded to 1,034 house-party related calls, most of them in the city area.

“This a real and pressing issue not only for the Gardaí and the health authorities but also for the general public at large.

“Large numbers of people gathering in an enclosed house setting can be potentially disastrous in terms of our efforts to contain the spread of this virus. House parties are out – it’s as simple as that,” said Chief Supt Curley.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read more on Covid in Galway, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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