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Connacht Tribune

Battle underway to save Connemara trout from invasive species

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New bylaws proposed by Inland Fisheries Ireland (IFI) have the potential to destroy trout fishing in Connemara, which is renowned worldwide.

It is understood some 1,200 fishermen in North Connemara have made submissions to IFI opposing its plans to amend bylaw 806, which could irrevocably damage trout fishing in County Galway.

If passed, local anglers fear that invasive species, tench and bream, could be introduced to salmonid waterways, which would eradicate the native trout.

“Trout do best when they’re the only species. They thrive when they have more room and when they have more food. Once you start putting in coarse fish, like pike or tench or bream, the trout over time will become marginalised. And once they’re gone, you can’t bring it back.

“We have some of the best brown trout fisheries in the world but if these amended byelaws go through then they’ll be gone in 10 or 15 years,” warned Michael Donnellan of Oughterard Anglers and Boatmen Association.

Lakes such as Lough Inagh and Ballynahinch, and smaller lakes around Roundstone and Oughterard are most at risk from these new bylaws, he said.

This is not a ‘boy who cried wolf’ warning either – Mr Donnellan pointed to a lake in Moycullen for proof that this is a real danger.

“Ross Lake on the right-hand side as you drive into Moycullen has no trout in it any longer. That’s official as of 2016 when IFI did a survey. The trout are gone. That’s what happens,” he said.

Under the bye-laws it would still be illegal for tench or bream to be introduced into Galway’s trout lakes. But, if the bye-laws passed, and if coarse fish were illegally introduced into the waterways, perversely it would not be legal to remove them, as they have protections under bylaw 806.

“The problem is that coarse fishermen have no respect for trout fishing. They don’t care about trout fishing. They couldn’t care less if all lakes were mixed. But we have the best trout fishing in the world and there are already a lot of coarse fishing lakes in England and mainland Europe. We need to protect trout fishing in Galway,” said Mr Donnellan.

He added that trout fisheries need protection from ‘bucket biologists’ who deliberately and illegally introduce invasive coarse fish species into recognised salmonid fisheries.

Mr Donnellan explained that asking trout fishermen to accept the introduction of coarse fish into the salmonid lakes would be like giving a golfer a tennis racket and tennis ball and asking them to go play a round of golf with them.

Connacht Tribune

Galway rowers aim for Olympic gold!

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Best of luck to two Galway rowers – Aifric Keogh of Aill an Phréacháin in Na Forbacha, and Fiona Murtagh from Gortachalla in Moycullen – who are part of Team Ireland’s Women’s Coxless Fours team who compete in an Olympic final in Tokyo at 1.50am (Irish time) Wednesday.

Coverage on RTÉ 2 television begins from 1am.

Ireland – who were second in their heat after Australia, who set a new Olympic Record – are in lane two, with Great Britain on their outside, and Australia, favourites for a gold medal, in lane three.

The Netherlands, China and Poland are in lanes four, five and six at the Sea Forest Waterway.

Poor weather meant some rowing events were re-scheduled but the Women’s Fours final was not impacted.

Jim Keogh, Aifric’s father, told the Tribune he was hopeful ahead of the final.

“To make the Olympics is tough, to make the final is tough, to make the medal is tougher,” he said.
Photo: Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty.

*Full coverage of the race and reaction in this week’s Connacht Tribune and Galway City Tribune 

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Connacht Tribune

Paedophile sentenced to a further 17 months in prison

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A convicted paedophile, described by a Garda as ‘a prolific child abuser’, has had a 17-month prison sentence added to a 13-year sentence he is already serving for the rape and sexual abuse of children.

Disgraced primary school teacher and summer school bus driver, 69-year-old Seosamh Ó Ceallaigh, a native of Tuirín, Béal a’ Daingin, Conamara, had at all times denied two charges of indecently assaulting a ten-year-old boy at a Gaeltacht summer school in Béal a’ Daingin in 1979.

The offence carries a maximum two-year sentence.

A jury found him guilty by majority verdict following a four-day trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court last month.

At his sentence hearing last week, Detective Paul Duffy described Ó Ceallaigh as a prolific child abuser who had amassed 125 child abuse convictions, committed while he was a primary school teacher in Dublin and while he operated an Irish language summer school in Beal a’ Daingin.

They included convictions for rape and sexual assault for which he is currently serving sentences totalling 13 years.

Those sentences were due to expire in August 2024, but last week, Judge Rory McCabe imposed two, concurrent 17-month sentences on Ó Ceallaigh, before directing the sentences begin at the termination of the sentences he is currently serving.

The judge noted Ó Ceallaigh’s denial and lack of remorse and the lifelong detrimental effect the abuse had on the victim as aggravating factors.

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Connacht Tribune

Dismay as marine park proposal rejected by planners

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A lifeline project, with the potential to create around 200 long-term jobs in an area of South Connemara ravaged by unemployment and emigration, has been rejected by planners – primarily environmental grounds.
The proposed marine park or Páirc na Mara, east of Cill Chiaráin village, was viewed by many as a real chance to turn the tide for this unemployment blackspot.
Locals – and the vast majority of Galway West politicians – were supportive of the project which was viewed as one that would revitalise the area.
That said, Galway County Council’s decision to refuse permission for the marine park was welcomed by Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages which had expressed fears that the marine farm would extract huge amounts of fresh water to breed more than 1.5 million salmon smolts.
They said that millions of litres of fresh water would have been extracted on a regular basis by the salmon farm company operating the smolt rearing units – from the same lakes as the Carna and Cill Chiaráin water supply system.
“Local residents can now rest assured that their domestic water supply won’t be hijacked to line the pockets of people who have no regard for the local environment or residents,” said Billy Smyth, Chairman of Galway Bay Against Salmon Cages.
It was proposed to provide a marine innovation park Pairc na Mara on a 60-acre brownfield site at Cill Chiarain.
The development involves the provision of a number of marine-based facilities as well as education and research facilities in the townlands of Cill Chiarain, Ardmore and Calvary.
It involves the abstraction of water from Lough Scannan, its transfer to and temporary storage in Iron Lake along with impoundment and pumping to the Marine Park site with a rising main.
According to the application, Galway County Council has previously granted planning permission for aquaculture-based activities on the site of the proposed marine park back in 2002 while the first phase of the innovation park was built in 2005.
There were a considerable number of submissions supporting the application with many saying that this part of Connemara would benefit greatly from such a development.
But there were others who expressed concern over the potential impact it would have on the environment, and it would be located in a highly sensitive area.
Cllr Gerry King said that it was a valuable opportunity lost to the area given the amount of unemployment that exists. He added that there was local outrage at the decision.
The Fianna Fail councillor met with those behind the project and residents in support of the project. He said that they all agreed that this decision should be appealed to the higher planning authority.
It was refused on the basis that it would adversely affect the integrity and conservation objectives of the European sides in the vicinity of environmental value.
Planners stated that they could not be certain that the project would not adversely affect the integrity of Cill Ciaran Bay, the islands and Connemara bog complex
They also said that the Environmental Impact Assessment Report did not present a sufficient level of information on the impact it would have on human health, biodiversity, land, soil, water along with cultural heritage and the landscape.

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