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City Council may face prosecution over blast



Date Published: 14-Jun-2012


The City Manager has not ruled out that a prosecution may arise from an explosion which ripped through City Hall two years ago.

Effectively, the local authority is now waiting to hear if a file will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions on the matter.

And interim City Manager Joe O’Neill has again told councillors that he cannot furnish them with details on their own internal investigations until the Council sees what the Health & Safety Authority’s independent investigation shows.

However, Mr O’Neill was told 18 months ago that the HSA is prevented from furnishing him with their report.

In fact, a second letter from the HSA, penned by their Assistant Chief Executive, asked the Manager to ensure their position was fully understood by the Council.

Mr O’Neill was questioned at a meeting of the City Council again this week on the explosion, but said he is unable to provide councillors with any information until the HSA report is completed.

When subsequently contacted by this newspaper, Mr O’Neill said: “We’ve done our own investigation, but we want to see what the HSA investigation shows. They did most of the investigating. They operate independently, and they could decide to prosecute somebody.

“I don’t know if somebody will be prosecuted … it would be wrong to speculate,” said Mr O’Neill.

However, the HSA wrote to Mr O’Neill in December 2010, referring to comments he made in the Galway City Tribune and our sister newspaper the Connacht Sentinel in October and November of that year, that he is “awaiting a report from the HSA in relation to the incident”.

HSA Inspector Vincent Darcy told Mr O’Neill: “I wish to advise that the investigation of this incident, being undertaken by the HSA is ongoing and that the HSA will not be issuing a report to Galway City Council in relation to the matter. The provisions of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 prevent me from providing you with the information you require.

“On completion of the investigation, should breaches in Safety and Health legislation be determined, a file may be submitted to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for their consideration and direction,” the letter reads.

The explosion occurred on the morning of June 11, 2010 shortly before staff arrived for work, and shattered windows as well as causing extensive damage to the offices on the ground floor of City Hall. It also travelled up stairwells and caused damage to the upper floor of the building.

At the time, Council officials hailed it as a miracle that nobody was killed or seriously injured in the incident, which took place at around 7.50am.

For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune.

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



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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Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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



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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