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Anger as town ambassador loses out to automation

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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.

Connacht Tribune

Residents in fear of gangs travelling to rural Galway to burgle homes

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Detective Superintendent Shane Cummins.

Residents in rural County Galway are living in fear of being burgled after one small area suffered at least 10 raids in the month of January.

Councillor Mary Hoade told a meeting of the County Joint Policing Committee (JPC) this week that those figures were for around Headford alone, as she called for additional resources to target travelling crime gangs visiting the county.

“Some of these burglaries are taking place in the morning when people go to work; some are in the evening; and others at night. It’s very frightening.  We recognise that these criminals are coming into the county, but we need more support to fight crime,” said Cllr Hoade.

“Rural garda stations have less resources . . . we’re relying on the resources in the nearest town,” she continued.

The Fianna Fáil councillor said gardaí couldn’t be everywhere at once, but communities needed to act as their eyes and ears and report suspicious activity when they see it. Detective Superintendent Shane Cummins (pictured) told the JPC that Galway was being targeted from time to time by travelling gangs.

“Three different gangs visited the county on one day recently,” said Det Supt Cummins.

Cllr Shelly Herterich Quinn (FF) said she believed increased CCTV and automatic number plate recognition cameras – to capture known gangs on tour – should be rolled out.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

IDA Ireland’s €10m land purchase backs Oranmore for industry base

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Former Mayor of County Galway, Liam Carroll.

IDA Ireland has trebled its footprint on the outskirts of Oranmore by purchasing more than 100 acres of land to support industry.

It’s understood the semi-state body purchased some 42.9 hectares on the outskirts of Oranmore, for a price in excess of €10 million.

The strategic purchase of land adjacent to some 21 hectares zoned ‘business and technology’ and already owned by the IDA, was a “major vote of confidence” in Oranmore and Galway, according Cathaoirleach of the Athenry/Oranmore Municipal District, County Councillor Liam Carroll (FG).

It brings the total amount of land owned by the IDA in the area to over 150 acres.

This latest parcel, purchased at the end of 2022, is located off the N67 Claregalway Road, to the north and east of the Galway to Dublin Rail line.

“It would be ideally suited and attractive to a major multinational company or companies for the establishment of a high tech, pharmaceutical or medical device type facility,” Cllr Carroll said.

The entire site of 150-plus acres is close to the M6 motorway, and an hour away from international links, Shannon Airport and Ireland West Airport in Knock.  It is also close to a number of potential Park & Ride sites, identified by the National Transport Authority as being suitable for commuters.

It’s understood the land is zoned agricultural and would require a material alteration to the County Development Plan to be voted on by county councillors, in order for it to be rezoned before 2028.

(Photo: Cllr Liam Carroll, who believes the land could be developed for a tech or pharmaceutical hub).
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway-Limerick rail service records busiest year since its launch in 2010

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Ceannt Station

The Galway to Limerick intercity rail service enjoyed its busiest year in 2022 since it was re-opened in 2010 at a cost of €110 million.

Passenger numbers on the Western Rail Corridor grew by 14% last year, compared with the last pre-Covid year of 2019.

Supporters said the growth in usage has ‘defied the naysayers’, who argued against the service reopening over a decade ago – and it has reignited the campaign of those in favour of reopening the line from Athenry to Claremorris.

The National Transport Authority has confirmed to former Gaeltacht Minister, Galway West TD Éamon Ó Cuív, that usage of the Galway/Limerick line grew last year, compared to 2019, by 14.4%.

This was at a time when railway patronage as a whole dropped by an average of 25% on intercity routes. Usage was also down by 35% on commuter trains and fell by 26% on Dart.

The only other lines showing an increase in passenger numbers last year were the Dublin/Tralee service and the Cork/Middleton service which were up by 1.6% and 1.4% respectively.

In 2019, more than 500,000 passengers used the Galway to Limerick route, according to Irish Rail. Growth of 14% last year indicates that patronage has passed the 600,000 mark for the first time.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

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