The City Council has served notice on the owners of the former Corrib Great Southern Hotel that the building is to be added to the Register of Derelict Sites.
Ultimately, that could lead to fines and up to six months in prison – alternatively, the Council can get a current valuation of the site and impose a levy of 3% per annum on the owner.
The building was the scene of yet another suspected arson attack last Tuesday night, when five units of Galway Fire Service were called to a blaze at around 8pm. It took more than two hours to get the fire under control.
It was the fourth fire at the property since March – all are being treated as arson by Gardaí. A spokesperson for Galway Garda Station said investigations are ongoing into the incident.
Meanwhile, Galway City Council is due to send a second notice to owners the Comer Group – the multi-billion euro property company run by two Glenamaddy brothers – of their intention to add it to the Register of Derelict Sites.
An initial letter was sent to the owners on October 16 which allows them to make a reply. The Council must then consider any representations which the owners may make. A follow-up letter is expected to be sent out next week.
If the Council orders remedial works to be carried out and the owners fail to do so, they face fines, imprisonment or a yearly levy of 3%.
Local area councillor Terry O’Flaherty said the Comers previously gave an assurance that security would be ‘upped’ at the site, and sensors installed to alert security guards of activity there.
“They’re obviously not working (sensors), when people can just get straight into the grounds. If something is not done, somebody will be badly maimed or killed. It’s a wide open, dangerous building.
“It’s very unfair on the residents and businesspeople in the area, having to put up with anti-social behaviour and having to look at such an eyesore on a main route into the city. It is such a beautiful site, it’s just awful to see it so run down,” said Cllr O’Flaherty.
Cllr Mike Crowe said the former hotel is “likely to go up in flames” unless the site is properly secured, and he is disappointed that the owners did not put proper security in place, as they had assured him they would in the past.
The Comers bought the property last year for a figure believed to be in the region of €3.5 million. Talks between the owners and GMIT officials for the 6.7 acre site broke down last year because the Comers had expectations “well in excess of market value” for the site.
Calls made by this newspaper to Barry Comer were unanswered.
Pedestrian seriously injured in Furbo hit and run
A man in his 40s is in a serious condition in hospital following a hit and run in Furbo last night.
He was a pedestrian who was walking on the R336 road near Furbo Church, when he was hit by a car around 8.30pm.
The driver of the car failed to remain at the scene.
The road is currently closed with diversions in place while Garda Forensic Collision Investigators conduct an examination of the scene.
Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to the collision to come forward, particularly any road users who may have dash-cam footage recorded in the area between 8pm and 9pm.
Drug use in Galway at ‘frightening levels’ says top Garda
Use of illegal drugs has reached ‘fairly frightening’ levels across the city and county, according to Galway’s top Garda.
Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that only about 10% of the drugs in circulation in society are detected by Gardaí.
He said that there had been increases in detection of drugs for sale or supply and for simple possession in the city and county so far this year.
Cocaine in particular was an issue in Galway, he said, but increased drug use was evident in “every village and town in the country”.
In his report to the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Curley said that there had been a 22% increase in detection of drugs for sale or supply in Galway, up 14 to 78 at the end of September.
There had been 108 incidents of drugs for simple possession, up by 15%.
The amount of cocaine seized in the first nine months of the year amounted to €538,838. The level of cannabis seized amounted to €361,872.
Ecstasy (€640) and heroin (€2,410) were also seized, according to the Garda report.
Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) said it was a concern that cocaine had overtaken cannabis for the first time, in terms of the street value of the amounts seized.
Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said that the Garda Drugs Unit needed to be commended for the seizures.
Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) said it was concerning that use of cocaine had escalated.
In response to Chair of the JPC, Councillor Niall McNelis (Lab), Chief Supt Curley said there were some instances where parents or siblings were being pursued by criminals over drug debts accrued by family members.
He added he would continue to allocate resources to the drugs problem.
Up to 20-week waiting period for youth mental health service in Galway
Young people in Galway have highest waiting times in the state for an appointment with the Jigsaw youth mental health service.
That’s according to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell who revealed that waiting times for an appointment here are currently up to 20 weeks.
“Figures released through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people, in Galway,” she said.
“Demand for the Jigsaw service in Galway and across the State continues to grow, however, as a result youths are waiting up to 20 weeks to get an appointment. With young people from Galway currently experiencing the longest wait times at 20 weeks.
“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.
“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk,” she added.
Deputy Farrell said that young peoples’ mental health had been adversely affected during the pandemic – with loss of schooling, sports, peer supports and even their ability to socialise with friends impacting.
“Jigsaw have experienced a 42% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears,” she said.
“There is also an element of postcode politics, that depending on where you live you may get treated quicker. Some areas have a three-week waiting time while others are left waiting for 20 weeks.
“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed – so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.
“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution,” she concluded.