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Cllrs concerned expansion of port will double truck traffic

Denise McNamara

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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

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City school relocates to the Races after flooding

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Winner alright! Winner alright! When a city Gaeltacht school effectively became homeless overnight due to flooding hell at Halloween, it turned adversity into opportunity by temporarily relocating to Galway Racecourse, which has been a massive success.

Disaster struck for Scoil Bhríde in Menlo during the October mid-term break when water from a suspected burst pipe flooded through the ceiling, damaging woodwork, electrics and equipment in classrooms.

Principal Máire De Brún, assistant principals Siobhán Ó Neill and Deirdre Ní Cheallaigh, and the board of management, chaired by Patricia Coleman, were faced with two options. The first was an emergency closure of the school for a week to fix the problem, which they ruled out.

“We took the bull by the horns and decided to go hell for leather and find another venue to house us so that the repairs could be done without pressure and so that the kids could continue school on the Monday after mid-term,” explained Ms De Brún.

The leak probably occurred on the Wednesday, and was discovered on Thursday, which gave only a few days to find a new school.

“When I look back on it, I don’t know how we did it,” laughed Ms De Brún.

First, she tried the Menlo Park Hotel, whose management was “extraordinarily helpful”. But because of Covid-19 restrictions, it couldn’t accommodate all 190 pupils in the school, pre-school and 10 staff.

Ballinfoile Community Hall was “absolutely fantastic” too, and agreed to house temporary classrooms. Those two venues still couldn’t cater for all students, and so Ms De Brún had to find another venue for two more classes.

“Someone suggested the Racecourse and we went out and met Michael [Moloney, Racecourse Manager] and said we just need it for two classes but when we were standing in the Killanin Stand, we said, ‘What are we thinking, let’s just move the whole lot out here and they’ll be under the one roof, they’ll have four floors, they’ll have plenty of space, they can run around outside?’,” she recalled.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Some Galway City pubs ‘will never reopen’

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – There are several pubs in Galway that will never reopen their doors as a result of the “bitterly disappointing” decision to keep pubs closed under Covid-19 restrictions.

That’s according to the new Chair of Galway City branch of the Vintners Federation of Ireland, Johnny Duggan, who said there were a number of pub owners who had already given up their leases and many more who found themselves in “serious difficulty” after being forced to stay closed for the best part of eight months.

From today (Friday), restrictions have been eased to allow for the reopening of restaurants and pubs that serve food. However, so-called ‘wet pubs’, which do not operate a kitchen, have been forced to remain closed for the foreseeable future.

Mr Duggan said there were a number of publicans under severe pressure to meet rent and loan commitments, and without adequate support, the future remained very uncertain.

“What the Government has given is three double payments of the CRSS (Covid Restrictions Support Scheme), but that comes nowhere near what you would normally turn over at this time of year. It’s welcome, but it’s just not enough.

“There are an awful lot of people who won’t survive this,” he said.

Mr Duggan said publicans found it “very strange” that they had been allowed bring food in from off-site premises to satisfy the need for a substantial meal when restrictions were eased in the summer, but that option was not available this time around.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. 

Galway City Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway Garda chief appeals for ‘special’ Christmas effort

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway’s most senior Garda has appealed to students and young people to make ‘one special effort’ over the Christmas holiday season to keep contact and travel to a minimum.

Yesterday (Thursday), some groups of students had organised mock ‘Christmas Day’ celebrations in keeping with the custom of recent years in the week before the end of the first semester at the city’s third-level colleges.

Gardaí had extra patrols on duty through the course of the day and last night to keep tabs on any improvised gatherings as part of their Covid-19 campaign in the run-up to Christmas.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley told the Galway City Tribune that the last thing the Gardaí wanted to do was to adopt what some people might describe as a ‘heavy-handed’ approach to gatherings of young people.

“The last eight months or so have been tough for all of us, but it has to be acknowledged that there has been a very high level of buy-in from everyone, including students and young people.

“We are at the point where a lot of progress in terms of containing the spread of Covid-19 has been made, but I suppose the key message we want to get out there now is to ‘stick with it’ over the coming weeks and months,” said Chief Supt Curley.

However, he did caution that if students or young people did break the law in terms of not abiding by the coronavirus regulations, they would be facing prosecution and a potential criminal conviction. “This is not what we want, or indeed what any student needs, as they look ahead to their career prospects,” he said.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. 

Galway City Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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