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City Council brands Mellows plan for floodlights as ‘excessive’



Galway City Council has described plans for new floodlighting at Liam Mellows GAA grounds in Ballyloughane as “excessive” and ordered them to be scaled back.

The club has been asked to address concerns from a neighbouring resident who said the astroturf cages are making her life a misery”.

The Council has also asked the club why a coastal walkway – a key stipulation from a previous planning permission at what is known locally as Kelly’s Field – has not yet been built.

The club had sought permission to replace eight floodlights with eight floodlight columns, each of 16 metres in height on the existing main pitch and to install eight floodlight columns (12 metres in height) on the training pitch, as well as a generator container.

According to the planning application, Liam Mellows currently fields 23 teams in all grades and age groups, and has over 700 members – the highest number since it was founded in 1933.

“In December 2017, Liam Mellows GAA Club won the Galway Senior Hurling Championship for the first time since 1970, bridging a 47-year-gap since the last victory. The County success meant the club qualified for the All-Ireland semi-final, played in February 2018.

“For this first time in many years, this required the club’s main team to train throughout the winter, which seriously exposed the inadequacies of the existing facilities.

“With only one (poorly) floodlit pitch in Ballyloughane, the panel of over 40 players and management were forced to travel to use floodlit pitches in Limerick City, Claremorris and Athlone.

“This reality caused the club to reassess its current and future needs and set the objective of being able to fully accommodate its full playing and training needs at the grounds in Ballyloughane in all weather conditions and at all times of year,” the application reads.

It adds that while their new full-size pitch is due to be completed this year, in the winter months, teams will have to relocate to other floodlit or indoor facilities, such as Galway Community College’s gym or Renmore Community Centre.

“The intention of the application is to provide a sufficient level of floodlighting on the existing grass pitches, to allow the existing level of activity during the summer months be extended into winter months.

“It is not envisaged that the proposed development would result in any direct increase in club members or playing numbers. The works are primarily intended to ensure that the same level of usage the grounds can accommodate during the longer summer evenings, can be extended earlier and later in the calendar year,” the application reads.

According to the club, the existing flood lights are ten metres high and are no longer fit for purpose, having been installed in 2002.

The plans have been supported by Renmore Residents’ Association, which said: “The proposals are entirely in keeping with the recreational and sporting uses of this area and we unreservedly support this application,” the residents’ submission reads.

A resident living at Ballyloughane Strand said her life had been turned into a nightmare since the completion of the cages in 2010, and said she and her late husband had not been made fully aware of the extent of that development by Liam Mellows.

She said footballs and sliotars entering her property were dangerous and posed a health and safety hazard, while the new lights would lead to greater noise levels – including loud shouting of players.

The resident said there had been an enormous increase in traffic to and from the grounds and the parking situation made it impossible for emergency services to access her home.

She said that trespass from users of the facility retrieving balls had become so frequent, that she had to ask the Gardaí for help to stop it.

The City Council has called on the club to comment on the concerns raised by the objector.

They also pointed out that a number of planning conditions in the permission for the new GAA pitch have not been complied with, in particular, the development of a coastal ‘green’ walkway, and have sought clarification on that.

“The [Council] considers that the cumulative visual impact of the existing, permitted and proposed floodlighting and ball stop nets provides for a negative impact on Protected Views (across Galway Bay) by virtue of the number, scale and expanse. The applicant is asked to revise the scale and nature of the development,” planners said.

They added that a report submitted with the application did not satisfactorily demonstrate that the development would not have an impact on the Galway Bay Special Area of Conservation and Inner Galway Special Protection Area.

Planners have also questioned the requirement for two playing pitches and the astroturf pitches to be floodlit, and to clearly outline the number of competitive games it is envisaged will take place on site, and the implications for traffic and parking.


Concerns over reopening of Middle Arch on Tuesday



A Galway City Councillor has given a cautious welcome but has also raised concerns over the reopening of the ‘Middle Arch’ beside the Claddagh Basin next Tuesday.

Access was closed to the public last May following requests from the Gardai due to large crowds that had gathered in the days previously amid fears of it becoming a serious health and safety risk.

The concerns were raised by Cllr. Niall McNelis who said that a cautious welcome should be given but that the possibility of closing it in evenings needs to be seriously looked at.

He said “The decision to close it was earlier in year was due to it had become an area where large groups had gathered drinking and had led to calls by locals that it had become a serious health and safety risk. The area also does not have safety barriers and this has led to persons falling into the water in the past.

“Recently there has been a large number of calls made that the area should be reopened and that public space be made available to the public.”

Cllr. McNelis also said that a cautious welcome should be given but that the possibility of closing it in evenings needs to be seriously looked at.

“We can not have the same scenes repeated as we did earlier this year and in previous years. House gardens and Claddagh church grounds were used as toilets and large amounts of litter mainly drink, was left behind. I have met a number of residents this weekend who are not happy with decision and calls have been made by them to have it closed in evenings by City Council and Gardai should assist in clearing area if needs be.

“We do not have enough Garda personnel to have proper policing in our city, we need more resources for the city to tackle and enforce anti social behaviour.

“I have met this week with Gardai and have been given assurances that this will be closely monitored and occasions such as exam results nights, freshers week and good weather will be monitored,” he said.

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Council rows back on ‘reduced delays’ projections for Kirwan junction



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists have described it as ‘a disaster’ and a former mayor has said the project gave very poor value for money, but Galway City Council have this week asked the public to be patient with the revamped Kirwan junction, close to the Menlo Park Hotel.

Since the four-arm signalled junction opened early last week, motorists have complained of traffic queues stretching back to the Quincentenary Bridge and Corrib Park.

And now the Council has rowed back on its consultants’ claims that the junction would increase capacity by 15% and reduce waiting times by 25%.

Former mayor and local taxi driver, Cllr Frank Fahy, told the Galway City Tribune that given the negative impact of the junction on traffic, the €5 million spent on the project represented ‘very poor value’ as regards taxpayers’ money.

“I will admit that the junction is now safer for pedestrians in that they can hit a button to give them a safe crossing, but since it opened there have some very serious traffic tailbacks,” said Cllr Fahy.

However, City Council Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the Galway City Tribune that the new junction needed time to ‘bed in’ with a familiarisation process.

“The main objectives of this project were to make far safer for pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate, as well as making it safer for motorists too, without impacting [negatively] on the traffic flow,” said Mr Finn.

He added that since it opened – and over the coming few weeks – data on all aspects of how the junction was functioning would be compiled which could involve changes to light sequencing, lanes and peak traffic flows.

One motorist who contacted this newspaper said that the daily “nightmare” journey from the Barna Road to the Headford Road during the morning peak traffic time had added up to 40 minutes to his journey time.

“The two lanes are regularly gridlocked from the junction, back the N6, over the Quincentenary Bridge and back to Corrib Park.

“In the mornings, it’s now easier to go down Taylor’s Hill and into town, past Eyre Square and up Bohermore to get down to the Headford Road.

Councillors were told by consultants in 2017 and again in 2018 – when they voted to proceed with the changeover to a junction – that average delays would be reduced by 25% and junction capacity would increase by 15%.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Man hospitalised following Eyre Square assault



Gardaí have appealed to the public for information into an assault in Eyre Square last weekend which led to a young man being hospitalised.

The victim of the assault – a man in his early 20s from the city area – suffered a cut to his knee and may have had a substance sprayed towards his eyes.

Following the incident – that occurred close to the Eyre Square taxi rank shortly after midnight on Saturday night last – the victim was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Galway.

It is understood that the victim was released later that morning and has made a full recovery. This week, Gardaí are poring over CCTV footage in an effort to try and identify the perpetrators of the assault.

The assailants are understood to have fled on foot after the incident towards St Patrick’s Avenue on the east side of Eyre Square.

A Garda spokesperson has appealed for anyone who was in the vicinity of the taxi rank on Eyre Square between 12 midnight and 12.30am on the Sunday morning (Saturday night) of July 25 last, and who may have witnessed the incident to contact them.

(Photo: the assailants fled on foot towards St Patrick’s Avenue off Eyre Square)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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