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Anger as town ambassador loses out to automation

Declan Tierney



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.


Salthill’s ‘Heart of Hope’ a beacon of light for frontline workers

Enda Cunningham



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A giant illuminated heart has been erected on the Big Wheel at Curry’s Funpark in Leisureland as a poignant symbol of hope and expression of gratitude for the country’s healthcare workers.

Last month, preparations got underway to set up the fun fair, but it became yet another casualty of Covid-19. Owner Owen Curry got to work on constructing a blue ‘Heart of Hope, An Croí Gorm’ with LED lights to attach to the 120-foot wheel overlooking the Prom.

Together with his crew, and respecting the rules of social distancing, he had the heart in place on the axle of the Big Wheel within a day.

“I wanted to do something, to say to the doctors, nurses, first responders, lab technicians and everybody working in the health service how grateful we are for their incredible dedication and courage in the current crisis.

“When the other lights on the Big Wheel are switched off, the heart emits a glow and appears to float in mid air over the Prom,” he said.

Without advertising revenue and people buying the paper, this website would not be here. To buy a digital edition of this week’s Galway City Tribune for €1.95, click HERE. Thanks for your support.

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ICU consultant reveals intensive planning ahead of peak Covid demand

Denise McNamara



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A consultant in critical care at Galway’s biggest hospital has assured the public that there is still significant capacity for very ill patients fighting Covid-19.

But to help University Hospital Galway best cope with the expected surge in numbers within the next two weeks, Consultant Intensivist John Bates has pleaded with the public to follow the strict public health guidelines about staying at home.

“There’s been a lot going on – a lot of retraining, a lot of redeployment, a lot of up-equipping. We normally have twelve ventilator beds and we’re up to 24 at this stage and have significant capacity. We’re working to get beyond that but we certainly have capacity at the moment,” he told the Galway City Tribune.

Asked if the hospital would be able to cope with the peak of the pandemic – tipped to hit in the next fortnight – he said there were no guarantees.

“It depends on the size of the surge. We can’t say for sure how big the surge will be. It’s a new disease and models of how it will go are different – in some we will be okay and others we will struggle,” Dr Bates said.

“The curve appears to be flattening. Dublin is starting to come under pressure accessing critical care beds. It’s likely we will at some stage here too. But we have good capacity at this stage.”

The number of healthcare workers who will likely be affected by the pandemic has been factored into the hospital’s readiness plans. In China, ten per cent of critical care staff were out of action while in Italy it has reached 20 per cent.

Despite the high risks facing hospital staff, Dr Bates believes morale at UHG is good.

This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article and extensive coverage of the coronavirus impact on Galway, buy a digital edition of this week’s Galway City Tribune for €1.95 HERE. Please remember that without advertising revenue and people buying our papers, this website would not be here. Thanks for your support!

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Galway CIty Council takes ‘wait and see’ approach to emergency cuts

Dara Bradley



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A revised, emergency budget with swingeing cuts to non-essential services may have to be introduced by Galway City Council if the Covid-19 crisis is prolonged and income from commercial rates, parking and rents from social housing dries up.

However, the local authority for now is taking a ‘wait and see’ approach, and has no immediate plans to introduce a ‘slash and burn’ budget.

Some 38% of the Council’s income of €100 million comes from commercial rates paid by businesses, which in 2020 equates to €38 million.

About 60% of all the rates collected – roughly €22.5 million – comes from the hospitality and general retail sector, which has been most badly hit by mandatory and voluntary closures to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Government has confirmed that businesses have a three-month ‘holiday’ on paying commercial rates, although pressure is mounting from business groups for rates bills relating to the period of Covid-19 closures to be written off.

Regardless of the outcome of that lobbying, Chief Executive Brendan McGrath said the City Council concedes that some city businesses simply will not survive this turbulent time – and that will have a knock-on effect on the local authority’s income.

This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article and extensive coverage of the coronavirus impact on Galway, buy a digital edition of this week’s Galway City Tribune for €1.95 HERE. Remember, without advertising revenue and people buying our papers, this website would not be here. Thank you for your support. 

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