The campaign to secure National Park City status for Galway kicked off in earnest on last week, with a launch celebrating the raft of ecological and environmental projects already underway across the city and county.
Spearheaded by veteran environmental campaigner Brendan Smith, this initiative seeks to make Galway one of the first national park cities in the world – something Brendan said couldn’t be more timely as the world faces down the barrel of environmental destruction.
“The world has become disconnected with nature. We have to work together to save ourselves, to save nature and to save the planet,” said Mr Smith.
Launched at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at NUI Galway, Mr Smith said it was an ideal location to start the campaign, as the connection between technology and environmental action would be key.
“This might seem an unusual place to launch a national park city, but the future is with smart cities and the two have to work together.
“Galway is famous the world over for its arts, and for its science and technology. We have those two big pillars, technology and the arts – the third pillar is the green,” he said.
“We’re more connected than ever before in terms of technology, but in the real world, we’re more disconnected than ever,” he added.
Some 20 speakers from different organisations and groups across the city spoke at the launch, and it was evident that the use of both technology and the arts would be vital to secure national park city designation and promoting the green environment in Galway.
Scientists from NUIG told attendees of their work on citizen science; the creation of a mobile lab with 50 sensors monitoring the atmosphere; an app to identify species of mushrooms; outdoor classrooms and laboratories; managing Ireland’s peatlands; mapping bee habitats; upcycling using 3D printing; and using an app to collect tree data.
Speakers from community and voluntary groups illustrated the importance of Galway’s waterways; the Connemara Greenway as a transport corridor from the west into the city; the urban bee project; and using Merlin Woods as an education centre for flora and fauna.
The Buildings Department at NUIG outlined their work to achieve a green campus, while Scoil Náisiúnta Iognáid (the Jes) showed the work that has gone into their outdoor classroom – with a representation from Our Lady’s College also at the launch.
From the business community, Dangan-based Aerogen outlined how their employees planted 550 trees in Terryland Forest Park during National Tree Week, and have invested in a tree nursery at Ballinfoile Community Garden – a template for businesses to engage with the environmental sector. The tourism sector was also represented with the Nox Hotel in attendance – a hotel located right at the edge of Terryland Forest Park.
This multi-sectoral approach was celebrated by guest of honour, Duncan Stewart, who said Galway was a national leader in environmental issues.
“We should be in a state of panic,” said Mr Stewart. “We should have been in a state of panic 20 years ago.”
“When you look at Ireland, we have the highest greenhouse gas emissions in Europe per person. It’s not just about the little things at the edges – we need to see fundamental change because we are stealing our children’s futures,” added the well-known environmentalist.
Army removes explosive device in Knocknacarra
An army Bomb Disposal Team was called to Knocknacarra last night to deal with a ‘viable’ explosive device.
Following a request from Gardai, the unit was tasked with investigating a suspicious device in a laneway off Cappagh Road at around 10pm.
The area was cordoned off and following an examination, the device was deemed viable and made safe.
It was removed from the scene shortly after 10.30pm and was taken to a Defence Forces location where it will undergo further examination.
Larkin and McDonnell out as Frankeen ‘Pacts’ punch!
Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley
The first City Council meeting since the summer recess took place last Monday in Leisureland. There were few raised voices or rows; a sedate affair, it was more straightforward than usual for the start of a new term.
It was as if city councillors were keeping their powder dry. Now we know why.
An hour after the Council meeting ended, the ruling pact’s mayoral agreement disintegrated in a blazing row. And a new pact has now been formed, but not with the combination of councillors that everyone expected.
It’s complicated. But the shenanigans that led to the creation of a new rainbow coalition, with a distinctly Blue(shirt)-hue, gives an insight into the cut-throat nature of local politics, and the rat-like cunning that’s needed to negotiate a path to power.
The collapse of the existing pact [Noel Larkin, Declan McDonnell, Terry O’Flaherty, Donal Lyons, Mike Cubbard and Colette Connolly (Ind), Niall McNelis (Lab), Martina O’Connor and Niall Murphy (Green)] has its roots in a dispute about Travellers.
After that house near Carnmore, bought by the City Council and earmarked for Travellers, was razed by fire, Larkin gave an interview on local radio, which irked Niall Murphy, a newbie to politics.
Murphy contacted all pact members, denouncing Larkin’s GBFM performance in a cutting email that sailed close to the wind. Larkin was livid. And attempts by pact members to placate him didn’t work.
So, twelve days after pressing ‘send’ on the explosive email, Murphy met Larkin face-to-face at the pact meeting on Monday evening in the Galway Bay Hotel. Fireworks ensued. The exact details of the barbed exchanges are sketchy but what is clear is that when McDonnell and Larkin left, the five who remained in the room, (two pact members were absent) knew the pact was finished.
Larkin and McDonnell had indicated they would negotiate with Fine Gael (Frank Fahy, Clodagh Higgins, Eddie Hoare) and Fianna Fáil (Mike Crowe, Imelda Byrne, Peter Keane, John Connolly, Alan Cheevers).
Those tripartite talks proceeded, and by late Monday, the rainbow pact members had conceded that power had slipped from their grasp.
They hadn’t signed on it, but the prevailing wisdom – among all sides – was that a new FF/FG/Larkin/McDonnell pact would emerge on Tuesday.
Not so fast, said Frankeen Fahy. Unhappy that FG was getting just one mayor in that scenario, he contacted the crestfallen rainbow pact members with an offer – they could keep their Strategic Policy Committees (SPCs) and deputy mayoral positions already agreed under the previous pact, but give FG two mayors.
The kingmaker was Donal Lyons. The ‘King of Knocknacarra’ forfeited being mayor in return for remaining on as chair of an SPC, and becoming deputy mayor instead.
One last attempt was made by FG to coalesce with FF, but the Soldiers of Destiny refused to budge on a second mayor, and insisted on one each for FF/FF/Ind. Meanwhile, overtures were made between FF and the Greens, but Larkin was a stumbling block to an alternative pact.
The upshot of the wheeling and dealing is a new pact (O’Flaherty, Lyons, Cubbard, Connolly, McNelis, O’Connor, Murphy, Hoare, Fahy, and Higgins). Fine Gael are the big winners at the expense of Larkin, McDonnell, and Fianna Fáil, who once again in City Council pact negotiations grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory.
(Photo: Cllr Noel Larkin)
For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune
Hospital worker failed to self isolate after trip to red-list country
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Management at University Hospital Galway have been asked to investigate ‘as a matter of urgency’ an allegation that a security employee at the hospital returned to work within the 14-day restriction period after coming back from a ‘red-list’ country.
The person has already worked at least two shifts at the hospital – including looking after an elderly patient – despite the fact that the restriction period would not have expired until this Sunday, September 20.
The Galway City Tribune can reveal that in a letter from SIPTU official to a senior UHG manager, it is alleged there was breach of protocol over recent days by an employee of an outsourced security company.
According to the letter to Services Manager Geoff Ginnety, while the worker was not covered under HSE employee rules, “they still must comply with the Government issued protocols”.
The letter from SIPTU states that the worker in question had told his colleagues that he was in a red-listed country and that ‘he did not have to restrict his movements’ for 14 days and could return to work.
“I request that you [Services Manager at UHG] address these concerns as a matter of urgency and provide clear guidance on how to deal with the issue,” the SIPTU letter states.
According to information accessed by the Galway City Tribune, the employee in question returned from a red-listed country on September 6 last and underwent a test for Covid-19 five days later on September 11.
Shortly after that, according to his employers, the results of his Covid tests came back as negative. The Galway City Tribune understands that he returned to his night-shift work on Tuesday night, September 15, and also worked the Wednesday night shift of September 16.
This newspaper has also been informed by reliable sources that on his first night back on duty the employee was left in charge of an elderly patient, while on his second night back at work, he was dutied to the Emergency Department.
When contacted by the Galway City Tribune, a spokesperson for the HSE said that they could not comment on issues relating to individual staff.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.