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Barna native lands new gig in Newstalk revamp

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She’s been a novelist, social diarist, political correspondent and regularly fills the large shoes of Vincent Browne – and now Galway native Sarah McInerney is set to tackle the world of radio.

The Barna native was announced as the new presenter of Newstalk’s drive-time radio show in a complete revamp of the station’s schedule, which sees her join the presenting team alongside the likes of Pat Kenny and George Hook.

While she hadn’t always envisaged a career in journalism, she always loved English and her ambition when she was younger was to write novels. By studying journalism in Dublin City University, she thought it would hopefully give her the chance to do just that.

However, this wasn’t the case and she was instead made report on current affairs and news stories instead. “I was a bit taken aback; our first lesson ever was use smaller words if you can rather than bigger words and I was devastated. As it turned out, it wasn’t what I meant to do but I really enjoyed it,” she said.

From there she landed a position with Sunday Tribune, where she started as a more creative writer, with a tongue-in-cheek piece social column called “Sarah in the City.”

“I spent two years going around to various high flying events in Dublin, looking at the rich, the wonderful and the gorgeous and writing about it.”

She quickly grew tired of venturing out on the town every night and gradually transitioned to general news stories.

Crime was something she never imagined doing but by the end of 2008 she was approached by publishers Gill Macmillan to develop one of her stories into a book.

The story was about a murder in the Dublin/Wicklow Mountains and the book was eventually published under the title “Where No One Can Hear You Scream.”

Then towards the end of 2008, Sarah was also approached by The Sunday Times and was asked to be the political correspondent for the newspaper.

“I hadn’t really any experience in covering politics because politics was so strongly covered at the Tribune. It was a big job for me to take and I wasn’t really given a choice to be honest and I saw it as a really big challenge.

“Of course three weeks later the banks collapsed. So I was on a steep learning curve from there on in. I loved it. Sort of like going from fiction to fact with journalism, I actually loved politics.”

From this point, her political career grew from strength to strength. She has appeared as a contributor for RTE, TV3 and Newstalk. She has even filled in as a guest presenter for Vincent Browne on his TV3 political show.

“No one can replace Vincent Browne; they are very, very big shoes to fill. My first time was terrifying but I got such a buzz out of it. I decided then that presenting was something I needed to start looking into because I really enjoyed it.”

When asked what her favourite type of journalism was, her response was simple.

“I don’t know, I love radio because no one is looking at you. TV brings in a whole other angle that you have to be conscious of. Where the camera is, where angles are, you have to look at cameras at various times etc.

“So it’s just the little added complications. It’s very hard to choose. I will always love print. I would not like to abandon it completely, that’s my natural home I think.”

The interview then switched to Sarah’s proudest moments in journalism. “The big political stories when you break them. The whole country is talking about the story it and you know they wouldn’t be talking about it unless you had found it out. Those moments don’t come that often but when they do they’re great,” Sarah said.

So what does the future bring for budding presenter? “Hopefully I’ll be regarded as a very successful radio broadcaster. If I could have the sort of success and career that Ivan Yates has had for example I’d be very happy with that.”

Speaking fondly of Galway, Sarah started that her busy schedule can make it difficult for her to travel back to her family home.

Working with The Sunday Times means her weekends are Sundays and Mondays make things more difficult for her and hampers her travelling home to only once every couple of months.

She describes her new radio show as lively mix of a very strong mix of news, current affairs and politics.

“There is also going to be the lighter things, we may look at movie reviews. Basically try and keep people entertained as well as informed. The whole idea is we will be catching people at the end of their day. They want to know what has happened during the day but they also want to be entertained as well.”

Sarah will be presenting her new show alongside Chris Donoghue and it will reach the airwaves this September.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council turns down Mad Yolk Farm site

Dara Bradley

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An application to retain farming-related development on a site in Roscam has been turned down by Galway City Council.

The local authority has refused to grant retention permission to applicant Brian Dilleen for subsurface piping to be used for agricultural irrigation at ‘Mad Yolk Farm’ on Rosshill Road.

It also refused permission for the retention of a bore-hole well, water pump and concrete plinth; and two water holding tanks for 6,500 litres; and other associated site works.

In its written decision, the Planning Department at City Hall said: “The proposed development, would if permitted, facilitate the use of the site for the provision of sixty 15.5m high seed beds, which have been deemed by the planning authority not to be exempted development.

“Therefore a grant of permission for the proposed development would facilitate the unauthorised development and usage on the site, contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

The site has been the subject of enforcement action by the local authority.

A lengthy Appropriate Assessment Screening report, submitted with the planning application, concluded “beyond reasonable scientific doubt, in view of the best scientific knowledge, on the basis of objective information and in light of the conservation objectives of the relevant European sites, that the proposed retention and development, individually or in combination with other plans and projects, has not and will not have a significant effect on any European site”.

A borehole Impact Assessment Report concluded that the proposed retention development “on the hydraulic properties of the aquifer is considered negligible”.

It said that there was “no potential for significant effects on water quality, groundwater dependent habitats or species associated with any European site”.

Six objections were lodged by neighbours, including one from the Roshill/Roscam Residents Association, which argued the Further Information submitted by the applicant did “little to allay our concerns” about the impact of the development on an “extremely sensitive site”.

The applicant has until June 29 to appeal the decision to An Bórd Pleanála.

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CITY TRIBUNE

NUIG student accommodation firm records loss

Enda Cunningham

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The property company which operates student accommodation on behalf of NUI Galway recorded a €3.4 million increase in turnover in 2019.

However, Atalia Student Residences DAC (Designated Activity Company), which is owned by the university, recorded a loss for the year of €6,300.

Accounts for the company for the year ended August 31, 2019, show that while there was a loss, retained profits are at more than €1.6 million. The accounts are the most up to date available from the Companies Registration Office.

The previous year, the company made a profit of more than €460,000.

Atalia Student Residences operates the 764-bed Corrib Village apartment complex and the 429-bed Goldcrest Village.

The figures show that the company’s overall turnover jumped by 52% – from €6.4m to €9.8m.

Turnover for accommodation services was up from €5.2m to €8.4m; and from conferences and events was up from €850,000 to €1.1m. Turnover from shops was down from almost €328,000 to €290,000.

Outside of the academic year, both complexes are used as accommodation for conference delegates, while Corrib Village is also used for short-term holiday lets.

The accounts show fixed assets – including fixtures and fittings, plant and machinery and office equipment – valued at €1.5m. Its current assets were valued at more than €7m, including ‘cash at bank and in hand’ of almost €6.9m (up from €5.6m last year).

The company owed creditors €6.9m, including €5.2m in deferred income.

It employed 38 people (which includes its five directors) last year, up from 31 the previous year.

As well as operating the student accommodation complexes, the company also markets conference facilities and services on behalf of the university.

It pays rent to NUIG but the figure is not included in the company accounts. In 2018, the rent figure was just over €2.25m.

In Corrib Village, a single bedroom with a private en suite for the academic year costs €5,950. For Goldcrest Village, the figure is €6,760.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Call for two-way cycling under Galway City outdoor dining plan

Dara Bradley

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Bike users want the local authority to examine the introduction of two-way cycling on one-way city centre streets.

Galway Cycling Campaign has again called for cycling to be allowed both ways. It comes as Galway City Council prepares to cordon-off parts of city centre streets to traffic, and make Dominick Street Lower one-way, to facilitate outdoor dining.

The cycling organisation said that the proposed pedestrianisation plan at the Small Crane, and the one-way system on Dominick Street, will result in lengthy diversions for people on bikes.

It has pointed out that school children and their guardians who cycle along Raleigh Row, and turn right towards Sea Road, will probably continue to do so even when the Small Crane is cordoned off to traffic, because the alternative route – via Henry Street – is too long a detour.

Similarly, it has been suggested that food-delivery services on bikes are unlikely to go the ‘long way round’ via Mill Street and New Road to get from Bridge Mills to restaurants on Dominick Street and would be tempted to cycle the ‘wrong way’ down the proposed one-way street or on the footpath.

Shane Foran, committee member of Galway Cycling Campaign, said now would be an ideal time to introduce two-way cycling on some one-way streets.

“It’s not controversial,” insisted Mr Foran. “It’s a general principle in other countries, if you are putting in new traffic arrangements, you would try and keep access for people on bikes.”

The regulation is contained in the National Cycle Policy Framework 2009; and a specific objective was contained in two of the most recent previous City Development Plans.

He said a former minister and Galway West TD, the late Bobby Molloy, had the vision to change the legislation in the late 1990s – but it hasn’t yet been embraced here.

“Bobby Molloy, who couldn’t be classed as an eco warrior, changed the law in 1998, so that it is available to local authorities to put up a sign granting an exemption from restrictions for people cycling on one-way streets.

“The road stays one-way for cars, and two ways for bicycles. Clearly that’s not going to be a sensible to do everywhere, like Merchants’ Road. In those situations, you might need a cycle track or lane to segregate people from traffic.

“But if it’s a low traffic street, with low speeds or relatively lower volumes of cars, then it should be possible for people on bicycles to cycle in both directions and still have it one-way for cars, without it being a major safety issue. It works in other countries,” said Mr Foran.

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