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Connacht Tribune

Areas under ‘blanket’ of illegally-dumped rubbish

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Illegal dumping continues to blight back roads around Gort – with Kinincha and the Pound Road just some of the areas constantly under a blanket of discarded waste of every description.

Galway County Councillor, Gerry Finnerty, said that while efforts over a number of years have seen the town centre become virtually litter-free, areas with less footfall continue to battle with professional illegal dumpers.

“Our town has been clean and tidy now for about 20 or 30 years but there are areas that have become black spots, like the railway line and Kinincha, because they are on quiet roads.

“There is an illegal operator in the area going to certain houses and taking away rubbish – he’s taking it from rental accommodation, social houses and from some foreign nationals who may not understand that he’s dumping it illegally,” said Cllr Finnerty.

According to the Fianna Fáil councillor, the individual in question is widely known by residents in the area but, as of yet, nobody is willing to identify him to the Council or to Gardaí.

“I have spoken to a number of the residents that I would know and warned them about the dangers of paying this individual to take away their rubbish but none of them are prepared to identify him,” he added.

As a member of Galway County Council’s Strategic Policy Committee on environment, Cllr Finnerty said he has called for a tougher stance on those enabling this type of activity.

“I have put down a motion that when we are paying rent supplement or when you are a tenant in a council house, you should have to prove that you have a contract with a reputable waste collector.

“This is happening everywhere – I was in Knock, County Clare, and I spotted a mattress dumped and I was talking to one of the council workers over the border and they cover an area from the Doolin coast to Ennis – he said there is more rubbish in that area than any other part of the county.

“He said that a lot of that is coming from the Gort area,” said Cllr Finnerty.

The situation at Kinincha is particularly dire and locals are often subjected to people dumping everything from tyres to household waste – something that creates a haven for vermin.

“There are two, if not three, spots where there is regularly the illegal burning of rubbish – there could be a fire there on a weekly basis.

“When a lot of what’s dumped is household and food waste, we all know what that attracts – it is disgusting what is going on,” said Cllr Finnerty.

Part of the problem is the excess amount of waste being generated and Cllr Finnerty believed retailers had a role in tackling some of the problems – in particular with coffee cups, plastic packaging and multiples of receipts for even the smallest purchase.

“Education is one part of the solution – people are not educated in the consequences of waste; we have to start reducing the amount of waste we’re generating.

“The plastic that’s being dumped causes huge harm to the area and could be part of the problem with drainage which leads to flooding – we are producing a huge amount of waste plastic,” he said.

Connacht Tribune

‘Give even one big GAA game to Ballinasloe’

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It’s the most centrally located ground in the country but Ballinasloe’s Duggan Park won’t host a single inter-county match this year – much to the annoyance of one local councillor who wants the GAA to allocate at least one big game to the venue.

Cllr Michael Connolly told a meeting of Ballinasloe Municipal Council that the ground is entitled to host major football and hurling fixtures – even though all but one of the Galway footballers’ home league games are assigned to Pearse Stadium with the other one in Tuam.

“If they gave us one match in Duggan Park, it would be something,” he said. “But at the moment, it seems as if it is being ignored.”

The Moylough councillor described it as the most accessible ground in the country and a venue in which players and supporters like to travel to – unlike, he suggested, Pearse Stadium.

He said that it was “a hateful venue” and few GAA supporters relished the prospect of travelling to the “far side of the city” to watch a football or hurling match.

A recent meeting in Gullane’s Hotel to discuss Duggan Park was attended by Deputy Denis Naughton, Senator Aisling Dolan, Cllr Evelyn Parsons and Cllr Declan Kelly among others.

But the Duggan Park Committee then issued a statement saying that the ground is owned by Galway GAA and any use of the facility needed to be authorised – and no authorisation was given to the meeting organiser, former Mayor of Ballinasloe Joe Kelly, for this purpose.

Mr Kelly has been a staunch campaigner for the redevelopment of Duggan Park and has called on the local authority to row in behind this initiative.

They went on to say that there is a plan in place for the development of Duggan Park which is multiple staged which started with the new dressing rooms, flood lights and a new entrance to the venue.

Planning permission is in place for this development and that €500,000 has already been spent in the Duggan Park over the past number of years carrying out these projects.

The work in the ground, they say, is done to an excellent standard by local contractors with the support of the previous Town Council for grants and sports capital grants.

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Connacht Tribune

Former tourism magnet officially on register of derelict sites

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The fire-ravaged hotel that was once one of the most popular in the county is now officially considered a derelict site – and that has led a local councillor to call for it to be either redeveloped or levelled.

Portumna’s Shannon Oaks Hotel, for so long popular with anglers and golfers in particular, has been boarded up for more than a decade since it was destroyed by fire.

Local councillor, Jimmy McClearn, has called on the owners to reopen or sell the property – adding that it should either be levelled or redeveloped.

“We are a tourist town and we need a hotel. The last thing we want is for a hotel to be shut up,” he said.

“It is a fine facility and on an extensive site so there is no reason why it should be boarded up,” he added.

The Shannon Oaks saga has gone on for the past twelve years – but now the owners, the multi-millionaire Comer brothers, will be forced to pay a derelict site levy if they do not reopen or redevelop.

That amounts to a seven per cent levy based on the market value of the property, which is worth around €1 million even in its derelict state.

The Shannon Oaks was ravaged by fire in September 2011 and four years later, the site was acquired by the Comer Group who, at the time, gave an undertaking that it would be reopened.

Around two years ago, planning permission was granted by Galway County Council to Barry Comer of the Comer Group to renovate the hotel by providing 60 new bedrooms along with 40 apartments to the rear of the structure.

However, there has been little or no movement on the site since then and now the owners are being again asked to give some indication as to when the hotel will be rebuilt.

It is considered an integral part of the tourism industry for the town and that is why pressure is mounting on the owners to rebuild the hotel.

Cllr McClearn said that all he is asking for is the owners to develop the site and provide a hotel there. “It’s not much to ask in a tourist town,” he added.

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Connacht Tribune

More than €200,000 worth of cannabis seized in East Galway

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More than €200,000 worth of cannabis was seized in during two separate search operations in East Galway on Saturday.

Gardai from the Divisional Drugs Unit conducted a search at a residence in Aughrim and seized cannabis plants with an estimated street value of €146,000 and €20,000 worth of cannabis herb which will now be sent for analysis.

Two men (both in their 30s) were arrested at the scene in connection with the investigation and are currently detained at Galway Garda station under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act, 1996.  Both men remain in custody.

A separate search was carried out at a residence in Ballinasloe yesterday afternoon and cannabis herb with an estimated street value of €35,000 was seized. Cannabis jellies and €7,510 in cash were also seized.

A man in his 40s was arrested and later released without charge and a file will be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

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