Galway City Councillors have poured scorn over claims by the Harbour Board Company that the proposed €126m port redevelopment will have a minimal impact on city traffic.
That’s amid projections there will be double the number of lorries every day using roads around the site during its eight-year construction phase.
At a special sitting of Galway City Council last night, Senior Planner Caroline Phelan gave a presentation on a report to be submitted to An Bord Pleanála by the local authority outlining its views on the project.
The Galway Harbour Board is the first body in the State to lodge an application with the planning appeals board under the IROPI (Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest) process in January, which means that the council does not have the final say on whether or not to grant approval.
The council in its report has urged An Bord Pleanála to seek external expertise on various aspects of the application to ensure it held up to peer review, including its traffic implications, the affect of sedimentation on city beaches as a result of a four-year-long dredging process and the flooding risk.
It also included 41 suggested conditions that should be attached to any grant of planning permission – among them devising some mechanism to ensure there was sufficient funding to complete the project so the city was not left with a half-finished white elephant.
It was the council’s views on the traffic implications of the project that excited most comment from the councillors. Council engineers have predicted there will be an increase of Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV) movements of 102% and 147% during the morning and evening rush hour when the new port would be operational, which would likely most affect the Lough Atalia/College Road junction.
“This potential increase in the number of HGVs will result in the significant shortening of the lifespan of existing roads,” the report states.
The council also pointed out that a recent report has recommended that the Wolfe Tone Bridge should have a weight restriction of 26 tonnes, which would effectively mean a ban for construction lorries.
Yet, in the Environmental Impact Statement submitted as part of the application, it has been stated there would be a maximum 5% increase in traffic volumes.
“Who’s joking who for crying out loud,” exclaimed Labour Councillor Colette Connolly. “Every single councillor around this table knows of the impact of the Solas cinema and the closure of one lane. It’s an effective doubling of HGV traffic alone out the Lough Atalia Road.”
Concerns were also expressed about the Habour Board’s contention it would have just a “slightly negative impact” on views protected in the city development plan.
The report is scheduled to be submitted by April 3 and an oral hearing is likely to be held by An Bord Pleanála into the project in early May.
Read more in today’s Connacht Sentinel
Elective surgeries cancelled at UHG as overcrowding continues
Galway Bay fm newsroom – Some non-urgent elective surgeries are being cancelled at UHG in a bid to tackle severe overcrowding at the city hospital.
It follows the issuing of a warning from the Saolta Hospital Group that the emergency department is extremely busy and there is ongoing pressure on bed availability.
General Manager at UHG, Chris Kane, says over 500 people presented at the hospital on Monday and Tuesday.
She says the overcrowding situation is very serious, particularly in relation to the ED, the Surgical Unit and the Acute Medical Assessment Unit.
Members of the public are urged to only attend the hospital in the case of emergency, and contact their GP or out-of-hours service if their health problem is not urgent.
Saolta is also reminding the public that the Injury Unit at Roscommon University Hospital is open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week, to treat adults and children over 5.
Speaking to Keith Finnegan on Galway Talks, Chris Kane said the current level of patients presenting is extremely high and “unusual” for this time of year.
She also noted there’s also been a rise in patients being treated for Covid-19, including in the ICU.
Galway rowers aim for Olympic gold!
Best of luck to two Galway rowers – Aifric Keogh of Aill an Phréacháin in Na Forbacha, and Fiona Murtagh from Gortachalla in Moycullen – who are part of Team Ireland’s Women’s Coxless Fours team who compete in an Olympic final in Tokyo at 1.50am (Irish time) Wednesday.
Coverage on RTÉ 2 television begins from 1am.
Ireland – who were second in their heat after Australia, who set a new Olympic Record – are in lane two, with Great Britain on their outside, and Australia, favourites for a gold medal, in lane three.
The Netherlands, China and Poland are in lanes four, five and six at the Sea Forest Waterway.
Poor weather meant some rowing events were re-scheduled but the Women’s Fours final was not impacted.
Jim Keogh, Aifric’s father, told the Tribune he was hopeful ahead of the final.
“To make the Olympics is tough, to make the final is tough, to make the medal is tougher,” he said.
Photo: Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty.
*Full coverage of the race and reaction in this week’s Connacht Tribune and Galway City Tribune
Paedophile sentenced to a further 17 months in prison
A convicted paedophile, described by a Garda as ‘a prolific child abuser’, has had a 17-month prison sentence added to a 13-year sentence he is already serving for the rape and sexual abuse of children.
Disgraced primary school teacher and summer school bus driver, 69-year-old Seosamh Ó Ceallaigh, a native of Tuirín, Béal a’ Daingin, Conamara, had at all times denied two charges of indecently assaulting a ten-year-old boy at a Gaeltacht summer school in Béal a’ Daingin in 1979.
The offence carries a maximum two-year sentence.
A jury found him guilty by majority verdict following a four-day trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court last month.
At his sentence hearing last week, Detective Paul Duffy described Ó Ceallaigh as a prolific child abuser who had amassed 125 child abuse convictions, committed while he was a primary school teacher in Dublin and while he operated an Irish language summer school in Beal a’ Daingin.
They included convictions for rape and sexual assault for which he is currently serving sentences totalling 13 years.
Those sentences were due to expire in August 2024, but last week, Judge Rory McCabe imposed two, concurrent 17-month sentences on Ó Ceallaigh, before directing the sentences begin at the termination of the sentences he is currently serving.
The judge noted Ó Ceallaigh’s denial and lack of remorse and the lifelong detrimental effect the abuse had on the victim as aggravating factors.