The final draft of the Tuam Local Area Plan – a strategy document which dictates how the town can grow over the next six years – is set to go on public display.
A local councillor said the town is “on the up”, and the new plan will help to build momentum.
At a local authority meeting, councillors discussed at length the 36 submissions made by members of the public, sporting organisations, landowners, developers as well as statutory agencies such as the Department of Housing, Planning; Department of Education; Department of Culture & Heritage; the Environmental Protection Agency and Irish Water
A series of changes were made to the draft plan by Tuam area councillors, while recommendations of the Council’s Chief Executive, Kevin Kelly, were rejected in a number of instances.
Those changes must now go on public display, before it comes back before the entire council for a vote.
Concerns about zoning land susceptible to flooding for residential use were raised by councillor Shaun Cunniffe and Jim Cuddy.
However, Senior Planner Valerie Loughnane Moran said that any planning application would have to be accompanied by a Flood Risk Assessment – if that assessment said the land would be likely to flood, planners would have no option but to make a recommendation that permission be refused.
A submission from JFC Manufacturing noted a parcel of land measuring 3.5 hectares which the company has identified for medium-term expansion. The company requested that zoning for industrial use be permitted as it regarded it as key to the future expansion proposals, especially to use as storage.
However, the Chief Executive’s response was that it would not be appropriate due it being within a Flood Zone.
Cllr Tom McHugh said JFC is one of the flagship industries in Tuam, 30 years in business and employing 250 people. He said the company produced 1,100 different items, including hard plastic piping, and this land would be used for storage of piping. He proposed that the zoning be changed, which was backed by Cllr Shaun Cunniffe, who said the Council needed to be “flexible and sensible” in such matters.
It was agreed to amend the zoning.
Cllr Donogh Killilea thanked the staff of the Planning Department for the huge amount of work put into the Local Area Plan.
“Things are looking good for the Town and we want to build momentum. Since the opening of the bypass, the new motorway and now the health campus, it had all created a new sort of primacy in the town. Tuam is on the up,” he said.
Cllr Tom McHugh said he felt deeply frustrated and annoyed by the Local Area Plan process, which involved a lot of red tape which did not really achieve anything.
The final draft of the LAP is now being prepared and will then go on public display.
Gardaí in Galway operating with fewer patrol cars
Five large Garda stations in County Galway are operating with fewer Garda vehicles now than two years ago – leading to a call for the local fleet to be restored to 2020 levels.
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has confirmed to Galway West TD Noel Grealish that the Garda fleet in the Galway Garda Division stands at 116 as of October of this year.
That’s greater than any of the years from 2012 to 2019, but it represents a reduction on the Garda fleet when compared with 2020 and 2021 figures.
Galway Gardaí had a dozen fewer vehicles this year, compared with 2020. There are 13 fewer patrol cars, down from 96 to 83; there was no change in the number of vans and motorcycles, and the division acquired one extra 4×4.
Garda stations in Ballinasloe, Loughrea, Tuam, Clifden and Salthill have all lost patrol cars in the past 24 months, according to the official figures.
Independent Deputy Grealish has demanded a restoration of the Garda fleet in Galway to 2020 levels.
“Gardaí have a demanding enough job to do, but it makes that important work even more difficult if they are not allocated the proper resources,” Deputy Grealish said.
“A reduction of twelve vehicles in less than two years across the Galway Division, down from 128 at the end of 2020 to 116 in October this year, is concerning.
“I have asked the Minister for Justice to explain why this has happened, that the number of vehicles in the Galway Division has fallen by ten per cent, when nationally the total fleet actually increased by 6%. I am demanding that they at the very least be restored to their 2020 levels,” he said.
Deputy Grealish pointed out that almost all areas of the county had suffered a reduction in Garda vehicles since the beginning of last year. Ballinasloe currently has six vehicles, a reduction of two since the end of 2020; Clifden also has six, down one; Loughrea was down three to eleven; Salthill was down three to ten; the biggest reduction in Garda vehicles was in the Tuam area down five to twelve.
Galway City’s fleet increased by two vehicles, for a total of 71.
Minister McEntee said that the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris was responsible for the administration and management of An Garda Síochána, including the purchase, allocation, and effective and efficient use of Garda vehicles.
“As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters. I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review to ensure their optimum use in light of identified operational needs and emerging crime trends,” she added.
Galway City Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) last month complained that the number of vehicles available to Gardaí in Salthill and Knocknacarra was insufficient.
Progress stalls on setting up Eating Disorder Community Health Team
Despite an increasing number of young people experiencing eating disorders, a new specialist community team has yet to be set up in Galway well over a year after it was announced.
The delay is mainly due to a difficulty recruiting a consultant psychiatrist to lead the team, this week’s HSE West Regional Health Forum meeting was told.
Councillor John Connolly (FF) queried the progress on the new Eating Disorder Community Health Team within the Child Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) after the HSE revealed in September 2021 that it would be set up in response to the hike in youths presenting for treatment.
Chief Officer of HSE Community Healthcare West, Breda Crehan-Roche, said interviews had been conducted to recruit a clinical lead, but so far none had been appointed. Six other staff had been appointed and these had been assigned to existing teams within CAMHS while a psychiatrist could come on board to manage the team.
“We have difficulty getting locum cover. Interviews were held. It’s a priority. We are doing a running recruitment process,” she told this month’s meeting.
It took between six and nine months to appoint a person to such a senior post.
“There is a lot of work in specialist intervention in the eating disorders team.”
She admitted that there were no records of how much of an increase there had been in referrals to CAMHS Galway for youths troubled by an eating disorder as all records were on paper rather than on computer.
“I can’t ask clinicians and therapists to pull together manual figures,” she stated. But the indication from staff on the ground was that there had been a downward trend in referrals post-Covid.
There was a move to keeping digital records by the middle of next year.
Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan dies aged 78
Retired Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan has passed away at the age of 78.
Born in Kilkenny in 1944, Bishop Drennan studied for the priesthood at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth from where he was ordained in 1968
As a priest, the then Fr Drennan served as curate in both St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish in Kilkenny and then in Ballycallan.
From 1975 he taught Sacred Scripture at St. Kieran’s College, returning to Rome in 1980 to become Spiritual Director at the Irish College there for the next five years.
When Fr. Martin again returned home he became a Lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth where he continued to teach until his appointment as Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin in 1997.
Following the retirement of Bishop James McLoughlin, Bishop Drennan was chosen as Bishop of Galway and Kilmacduagh and Apostolic Administrator of Kilfenora and was installed on 3rd July 2005 in Galway Cathedral serving to his retirement in 2016.
A brief statement released by the Diocese of Galway this afternoon confirmed his passing and offered their sympathies to Bishop Drennan’s family and all those who mourn his loss.
Funeral arrangements for the late Bishop Drennan will be announced later