He has been described as one of the greatest ambassadors for Ballinasloe – but Doc Coyne’s tenure as lock keeper on the approach to the marina is now at an end.
The lock on the River Suck was provided back in 2003 to coincide with the opening of the marina in Ballinasloe and Doc has been the lock master since then. But now Waterways Ireland want to provide an unmanned automatic lock on the approach to the marina and this is being resisted by local councillors and some business interests in the town.
Cllr Dermot Connolly has a major problem with this move. He said that the lock master provided a variety of roles and was not only a welcoming one but also provided assistance to those who had hired boats for the first time.
He said that it was a dedicated service and one that was necessary on the lock and particularly for those on their own or for elderly couples who had hired out boats.
“There is a safety issue here,” added Cllr Connolly. “If a person comes on their own it can be intimidating or if there are a number of boats waiting to come through the lock at the one time, who polices this?”
The Sinn Fein councillor said that at the moment there is someone there with local knowledge who can police the lock with a huge degree of efficiency and expertise. He also helped those on boats who were unfamiliar with how locks work.
“The lock-keeper does a fantastic job and my fear that if he is removed from this position, it could have a major impact on the future of the marina. This is a facility that we are continually trying to develop and encourage,” Cllr Connolly added.
He was supported by Cllr Michael Finnerty who informed Ballinasloe Municipal Council that almost 30,000 boats had passed through the lock since the marina was opened back in 2003. Cllr Finnerty said that on each boat there were between three and 10 people and this meant a lot for the economy in Ballinasloe town.
“Our lock keeper is the first person that people see when they arrive by boat to Ballinasloe. He is like an ambassador for the town and this is one asset that we could do with retaining.
“The only good thing about this is that he is not losing his job but his removal from the lock could have a serious negative impact on tourism as far as Ballinasloe is concerned,” Cllr Finnerty added.
Gardaí bid to identify body recovered near Mutton Island
Gardai have launched an investigation following the discovery of a body in Galway Bay yesterday afternoon.
A member of the public raised the alarm after spotting the body in the water while walking on the causeway to Mutton Island.
Galway Fire Service, Gardai and the RNLI attended the scene and recovered the body at around 4pm, before it was taken to University Hospital Galway for a post mortem.
It is understood that the body may have been in the water for some time.
Gardaí are currently examining a list of missing people in the city.
Gardaí investigate fatal Carraroe crash
A man in his 30s has died following a road crash in Carraroe in the early hours of this morning.
At 3.50am, Gardaí and emergency services attended at a single car collision on a minor road.
The driver of the car, a man in his 30s, was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later. A passenger in the car, a male in his 30s, was taken by ambulance to Galway University Hospital. His injuries are not thought to be life threatening.
The road is currently closed and local diversions are in place. Garda forensic collision investigators will examine the crash site this morning.
Land Development Agency rules out Merlin ‘land grab’
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Campaigners have warned the Land Development Agency (LDA) to keep its hands off Merlin Woods.
Local community group Friends of Merlin Woods said that the amenity on the east side of the city is not suitable for residential development.
It has sought clarification on whether the LDA has earmarked part of the recreational and amenity lands for housing, after it appeared on its online database of publicly-owned lands.
In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, the LDA said its database compiles a list of all State lands, not just land for development.
In relation to Merlin Woods, the LDA said: “Those lands aren’t included in the LDA developments in Galway. The lands database is a map-based tool which compiles all State lands and has no reflection on development potential.”
It came after Caroline Stanley of Friends of Merlin Woods raised concern that land within Merlin Woods had been earmarked for development.
“I’d be concerned that it’s marked as residential when it’s in RA (Recreational and Amenity) land. Some is marked ‘open space’ but some is marked as ‘new proposed residential’ on its [LDA’s] database. It makes us wonder why. We’d like clarity and to clear it up.
“The message we’d like to get out there is we need clarification, whether it’s a mistake on the Land Development Agency’s part, or whether it is an area that they consider as a residential area, which the community would be opposed to. We need clarity. It could be something that is in line for development later on, we don’t know, and we need clarity.”
Councillor Owen Hanley explained that the fears around Merlin Woods stem from legislation currently making its way through the Oireachtas that would strip councillors of powers to veto the transfer of land to the LDA for housing projects.
The Bill would also allow Government to direct what public lands – including those owned by local authorities – can be transferred to the LDA for development of social and affordable housing.
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.