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Authorities insist soil samples from city pitches are safe

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Soil samples showing high levels of minerals at two city pitches are not a threat to health and safety of players, authorities have insisted.

Galway City Council last week asked the Health Service Executive (HSE) to examine soil test results, which revealed massively high levels of zinc, copper and iron at the new pitches at Westside.

The readings from soil samples taken at Corrib Rangers soccer pitches and St Michael’s GAA pitch were way above recommended levels, in some cases 11 times the recommended levels.

But the Public Health Department of the HSE told the City Council this week that “based on the concentrations of trace elements found in the top soil from the sports field, there does not seem to be any concern for adverse human health effects.”

In a statement, the local authority added: “On that basis, Galway City Council is satisfied that there is no threat to human health for users of the sports-grounds at Westside.”

Sources in both the soccer and GAA clubs last week complained that the high level of mineral content in the soil was stunting grass growth.

Stephen Walsh, Director of Services, said he will visit the site “at the earliest available opportunity” to examine the playing surface.

“What must be borne in mind is that the pitch is a sand-based surface, which has no nutrient basis but improves drainage; we have had the largest number of storms in a winter that I can remember; the surface that was highly stressed by weather, darkness, short days with no grass growth, water ingress; and fully grown men in teams running up and down it all winter creates wear and tear,” explained Mr Walsh.

He said the test results were undertaken on the soil that existed on the site, not on imported material. “The original soil would have been part of the filling of these lands many years ago,” he said.

Mr Walsh added: “I’d like to clarify something here though – the purpose of the tests was to specify the most effective fertiliser application. The translocation and uptake of fertilisers, which contain most of the elements referred to in the tests carried out on the soil, is heavily affected by the electro-conductivity of the soil.  Put simply certain elements assist with uptake whilst others can inhibit it. The mix specified works to create a balance to improve translocation, reduce losses into ground water and replenish any deficits.”

In relation to the upkeep of the pitches Mr Walsh said: “Ideally the availability of a full-time grounds team like in any of the sporting stadia would help to manage wear and tear on a continual basis; for us that’s not a reality. We do the best we can with what is available. The matter of pitch management will be addressed internally with my colleagues and supervisors.”

An official St Michael’s GAA Club spokesperson said: “We weren’t aware of any soil issues. We have been in touch with the Council who don’t know anything either regarding above. They are beginning to aerate, sand and fertilize the pitch this week and we are looking forward to good growth with the seasonal increase in temperature due.

“Many visiting teams have commented about the excellent playing surface with exceptional drainage over the winter months. When many other facilities were closed around the city we found ourselves in a position to host schools’ games when many others couldn’t. We look forward to the continuation of training as normal and a fun filled Easter camp starting tomorrow (Tuesday March 29).”

Connacht Tribune

Galway husband and Roscommon wife cheer on different sides of Connacht Final fence!

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Galway supporter Michael Bradley and his wife Roscommon supporter Siveen Bradley in Ballinasloe this week. Pic Gerry Stronge

The Bradley family in Ballinasloe have divided loyalties ahead of this Sunday’s Connacht senior football final between neighbouring counties Galway and Roscommon.

Mike Bradley, from Ballinasloe town, is a ‘stone mad’ Galway GAA fan – but his wife Siveen is from Newtown, a village three miles over the border and will be very much shouting for the Rossies.

Her nephew is Paul Carey, a rising star of Roscommon GAA, and already a legend in the Pádraig Pearses club, who could torment the home team’s defence at Pearse Stadium if he’s recovered from injury and if he’s fit and picked to play.

Though he may not feature this weekend, the 21-year-old Carey made his senior inter-county debut this season during Anthony Cunningham’s march to Division Two League success; and landed eight points for Pearses in the South Roscommon club’s first ever provincial title win in January.

Siveen, a sacristan in St Michael’s Church, and Mike, a caretaker in Canal House, live on Bridge Street and they’ll watch the provincial decider at home on television – because she could not handle the nerves of watching it live in Salthill.

“I watch the matches on telly or listen on the radio. The only reason I don’t go to the matches is I’d get too excited! I wouldn’t be able to deal with it. Even when it’s on the telly I’d be turning it off and on and texting my sister have they won because I couldn’t watch! I’m fierce bad,” laughed Siveen.

Her daughter, Siobhán, a Galway supporter, is married to a Mayo man, Seán Vahey, who live in Castlebar.

“As bad and all as I am I have a daughter married to a Mayo man! I’m up against it,” joked the proud Roscommon woman.

Read full coverage ahead of the Connacht Football Final in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway not getting its fair slice of Government cake

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Galway County Buildings.

Galway County Council needs a bailout – because it is continually underfunded by central government…and not because of rapidly rising inflation.

Chief Executive Jim Cullen warned County Councillors this week that Galway County Council is the lowest funded local authority in the country per capita.

This underfunding, ongoing for years, was impacting on its capacity to deliver services in the county.

Mr Cullen said he was also concerned that cost inflation and rising cost of inputs, materials, fuel and energy were going to have an impact.

But he said that ‘the only bailout we need’ is a correction in the per capita funding it receives from central government.

He said “I don’t expect to get a bailout” to cover the cost of inflation, because it was impacting on all local authorities.

“If we do, that’s good,” he said.

But Mr Cullen urged County Councillors to ‘stay focused’ on the real financial problem facing the local authority historically and now, which was underfunding.

He said he has taken every opportunity to raise this issue with junior and senior ministers who visit Galway, including most recently Environment Minister Eamon Ryan.

He signalled it involved a fairer distribution and retention of the money raised in the county through Local Property Tax.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Drugs feud boils over with pipe bomb attack

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TWO arson attacks on houses in Ballinasloe over the past week – one of them involving a pipe bomb – are believed to be part of a feud related to drugs.

Both incidents occurred in the Hymany Park area of the town with a pipe-bomb used in the first one which took place shortly after 2am on the Friday morning of May 20 last.

The pipe bomb was set off at the front door of the house which had one occupant when the attack occurred – the man did not suffer any injury in the incident.

However, extensive damage was caused to the front of the house with a door and window destroyed – Gardaí have described the use of a pipe bomb as ‘very worrying’.

In what could be a related incident, another house in the Hymany Park was the target for an arson attack in the early hours of Tuesday morning last.

A fire accelerant – possibly petrol – was splashed onto the front door of the house at around 4am which was then set alight. The damage is understood to have been confined to the front door area.

A Garda spokesperson issued an appeal for anyone with information in relation to either incident – or who may have relevant dash cam or camera footage – to make contact with them.

“Both incidents were highly reckless, but we are particularly concerned at the use of an explosive pipe-bomb device in the first one.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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