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City Hall statement helps spread Coronavirus panic



Cllr Owen Hanley’s photograph of the City Council meeting in The Galmont on Monday shows how elected members were separated by at least two metres

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column with Dara Bradley 

You’ve got to wonder about the wisdom of the statement issued by Galway City Council last Monday.

Galway, like the rest of the country, and the world, was and is on edge about coronavirus Covid-19. And rightly so – it is deadly.

But far from putting the public at ease, City Hall’s email about switching venues for its meeting fuelled fears.

The statement read: “Following a risk assessment of the Council Chamber in relation to the current guidance regarding Covid-19, this afternoon’s ordinary meeting of Galway City Council will now take place in the veranda lounge of The Galmont Hotel, Fairgreen Road, Galway from 3pm.”

That was it; a one-liner that posed more questions than it actually answered.

The public, if the reaction on social media is an accurate gauge, was panicked.

Why the hell are they moving from the Council Chamber; is it infected, everyone wondered?

We hear that the statement even caused confusion among staff working for the local authority – was there a case of coronavirus in their midst that they hadn’t been told about?

Alas, the explanation was simpler and less dramatic. The reason for the change of venue was this. The Council Chamber is small. It is so small that councillors and Council staff sit close together, shoulder to shoulder. The HSE had issued advice to all employers that workers sitting next to each other for periods of 15 minutes or more should be separated by two metres, as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus. In order to comply with this advice, the Council decided to move to The Galmont, which could seat 18 councillors, several staff members and media the required two metres or more apart.

The problem wasn’t necessarily that the Council was engaging in social distancing – although it did spark fears in other workplaces that are tight for space and don’t have the luxury of moving to a hotel. The problem was that the statement was so sparse on detail, it inevitably aroused suspicion and caused unnecessary panic.

Meanwhile, once the hullaballoo online died down, and the real reason for the change of venue became apparent, the meeting proceeded at The Galmont. There was one problem, though. They only had one microphone, unlike in City Hall where each councillor has their own mic. And so, the mic was passed around to each speaker, who made their contribution, inevitably slobbering and spluttering into the device before passing it on. Coronavirus risk assessment how do.


Will and Kate bring out the Shoneens!

‘The most Shoneen town in Ireland’ was the wonderful description of Galway City in 1916 by an Irish Volunteer who was fighting to overthrow English rule in this country . . . *For more Bradley Bytes see this week’s Galway City Tribune


Galway family’s light show adds magic to Christmas



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Carrick Family Light Show returns tonight (Friday) as 70,000 lights are illuminated in aid of a worthy local charity.

The man behind the lights spectacular, James Carrick, says test runs this week have proven successful and the family is ready to mark another Christmas in style.

“This is our fourth Christmas doing it. We started in 2019, but Covid was around for the last two years so it will be great this year not having to worry about that so much,” says James, who has spent the last few weeks carefully rebuilding the show at his home in Lurgan Park, Renmore.

He’s added “a few bits and pieces this year” – his brother buying the house next door has provided him a ‘blank canvas’ to extend.

Over the past three years, the show has raised almost €30,000 for local charities and James hopes to build on that this year – offering the light show for free, as always, and giving the opportunity to donate if people wish to do so.

The show runs nightly from 6.30pm, Monday to Saturday, with an extra kids show on Sundays at 5pm at 167 Lurgan Park (H91 Y17D). Donations can be made at the shows or by searching ‘idonate Carrick Family Light Show’ online.

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‘Chaos’ for Christmas as Martin junction works delayed again



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists attempting to get into Galway are facing a nightmare before Christmas as continued delays to the works at the Martin roundabout create traffic chaos on the east side of the city.

Anger over the controversial project to remove the roundabout at Galway Clinic intensified this week as the completion date was pushed out to February – nearly a year after works began and six months later than the supposed deadline.

Local councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) told the Galway City Tribune that he had lost all confidence in the Transport Department in the City Council and hit out at their “outsourcing the problem” to private contractors.

He said despite repeated representations from him, the local authority was refusing to take responsibility for the bedlam caused by the works, which he said had resulted in “three minor collisions in the last five weeks”.

“The bottom line is that this has been an absolute shambles and I’ve lost all faith in senior officials in City Hall. When I raised the issue again this week, I was accused of looking for newspaper headlines – they will not take responsibility,” said the City East councillor.

“It’s like an obstacle course up there, and now they’re saying February for completion. I’ve no confidence it will even be done by then – they’re out of their depth. If you look at what they’re saying, they say they’ll be doing the surfacing until February,” continued Cllr Cheevers, anticipating that works could still be ongoing next March or April.

In a statement issued by contractors Fox Building Engineers Ltd and Galway City Council, it was claimed that “supply chain issues” had impacted severely on the project.

Motorists this week reported delays of up to an hour just to travel the short distance from Briarhill Shopping Centre as far as the Doughiska Road-Dublin Road junction, a distance of less than 2km.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article,  see the December 2 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Councillors rubber stamp ‘temporary’ helipad after nine years in place



The helipad on the former Shantalla pitch.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Health Service Executive (HSE) came under fire over the ‘temporary’ helipad serving University Hospital Galway at a meeting to finalise the Galway City Development Plan for 2023-29.

Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, made a point of publicly highlighting his dissatisfaction with the HSE, calling on them to urgently “regularise” the planning permission for the helipad.
Speaking on the issue, Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) said that he mistrusted the HSE’s proposal concerning the helipad, saying that previous promises about the site had not been kept.

Currently, University Hospital Galway operates the helipad to transport medical emergencies on Council-owned land in Shantalla – it has been used for past nine years, despite the HSE saying it would be used for six months.

The temporary structure, the busiest helipad in Ireland, transports patients from as far north as Donegal to the hospital.

Councillors voted to change the Galway City Development Plan to provide for a helipad at this location but urged the HSE to normalise the planning permission at the site and to provide compensation to the local community for the loss of a section of the park.

Mr McGrath said that he wouldn’t “wait forever” for the HSE to bring the site in line with the planning laws.

Last month marked the ninth anniversary of when the Saolta University Hospital Group gave a commitment to the people of Shantalla about the public land it borrowed.

Tony Canavan, the then Chief Operating Officer, and now CEO of Saolta, said that the land would be used to accommodate a helipad at the rear of UHG for six months only.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article,  see the December 2 edition of the Galway City Tribune where there is extensive coverage of rezoning decisions under the City Development Plan. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.

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