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City bypass ‘dead in the water’

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Date Published: 12-Apr-2013

 THE Galway City Outer Bypass, which has been in planning for the past 20 years, has suffered a near-fatal setback following a ruling from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxemburg.

The most strident campaigner against the bypass, environmentalist Peter Sweetman, declared the road project “dead in the water” following the ECJ’s judgement issued yesterday.

Supporters of the bypass are not so fatalistic, although they admit the decision means any chances of building a road circumventing the city have been setback by several years.

The ECJ, in its judgement, ruled that permission may not be given for developments on priority conservation sites where there is a risk that it will bring about, “the disappearance or the partial and irreparable destruction of the protected site”.

In the case of the bypass, it related to the destruction of 1.47 hectares of protected limestone pavement in a site of 270 hectares.

Mr Sweetman, speaking from Luxemburg, told the Galway City Tribune the bypass is dead. He also blasted proponents of the road for ignoring his advice over a decade ago.

“For 11 years I’ve been told I’m an idiot. Now, finally, this judgement proves that I’m not an idiot,” said Mr Sweetman.

“This judgement is the end of the bypass as proposed. It means in layman’s terms that An Bórd Pleanála was wrong to give permission for the bypass as proposed. My point all along has been that granting permission for the bypass was contrary to EU law.

“My position has been vindicated. In 2001, I went to the County Council and the Corporation (now City Council) and I told them it was contrary to EU law and they laughed at me. They’re not laughing now.

“They spent many multiples of millions of euro on this project – it was a complete waste and they could have saved the taxpayers money if they listened to me. I never believed from day one that I was wrong and always believed that I would win. Now the public servants and the public TDs want to continue wasting more money to ‘get around the law’, which is disgraceful,” he said.

Galway West TD Brian Walsh described the preliminary ruling of the ECJ as “very disappointing but not unexpected” and said that it was likely to set the bypass project back several years.

“It was clear from consultations that I had with well-informed sources in Luxembourg that the ruling from the ECJ was likely to be detrimental to the prospects of the bypass, as was reported in the Galway City Tribune last September,” he said.

“Unfortunately, that has transpired to be the case and it represents a major blow for the project that is likely to set it back several years. There’s no point in misleading people: this is a massively disappointing development.”

For more see page 10 of this week’s City Tribune

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past

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A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.

 

For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr

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Date Published: 23-Jan-2013

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Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup

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Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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