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Connacht Tribune

Communities unite to campaign against scrapping of bus stops



Residents in Kilrickle are planning a series of ‘lightning strike’ protests over the coming weeks as they bid to have the village’s bus stop restored.

Villagers are incensed by the decision of Bus Éireann and National Transport Authority to withdraw the bus stop, despite the Dublin to Galway bus service continuing to pass through Kilrickle.

As of Sunday, July 29, the bus serving Route 20 will no longer pick-up and drop-off passengers at Kilrickle, Oranmore, Derrydonnell, outside the Dubarry factory in Ballinasloe and Ballydangan in Roscommon.

The nearest stop is eight miles away in Aughrim. The other alternative is Loughrea.

On Friday last week, upwards of 100 people – about a third of the population of Kilrickle – packed into the village hall to organise a fight-back against the decision.

On Monday, their words were matched with action as protestors organised two protests in Kilrickle to highlight their concerns.

The 8.30m and 9.30 services were both targeted by protestors. The first one was hit with a ‘go-slow’ cavalcade of tractors and cars and during the second one, Jackie Flannery, campaigner with SOS (Save Our Stop), boarded the bus and read out a letter of protest.

“It’s time that people stand up and fight for rural Ireland,” said Kilrickle resident Jackie Flannery, who has used the service daily since 2007 to get to her business in Athlone.

“We are campaigning for the bus service to be reinstated because it is an attack on rural Ireland. the Bus Éireann busses will be passing the village of Kilrickle, stopping in Aughrim, so we are asking why are Kilrickle customers being discriminated against? We appreciate that Bus Éireann are commercially driven but surely the people of Kilrickle and all other rural stops are entitled to a public transport service, one that is not driven by number usage.

“I would also question the Bus Éireann numbers on this one – it is used far more frequently. This decision impacts on students, OAPs, people going for hospital appointments both in Galway and Ballinasloe, people going shopping, and people going to work,” she added.

A petition had garnered more than 700 signatures earlier this week and the campaign in Kilrickle is hopeful that residents in the other areas will rally to the cause.

The group has called on Transport Minister Shane Ross to intervene and provide extra funding to provide a PSO (Public Service Obligation) levied bus service for these rural stops.

The campaign has the backing of local politicians, including Galway East TDs, Anne Rabbitte (FF) and Ciaran Cannon (FG).

Cannon, Minister for Diaspora and International Development, described it as a public relations disaster for Bus Éireann.

“People who have used the service for years are being told that this is an exercise to make Bus Éireann more competitive, but in reality, it is quickly becoming a public relations disaster for the company. Bus Éireann’s contention is that the decision affects less than four passengers a day in Kilrickle.

“Despite that contention, over 80 people attended a meeting in the local hall last Friday evening which, combined with the numbers protesting Monday morning, shows that the company is out of touch with the anger generated in rural Ireland by the decision,” said Minister Cannon.

Both he and Deputy Rabbitte called for the decision to be reversed.

Last week, a spokesperson for Bus Éireann told the Connacht Tribune that its Expressway services are “wholly commercial and receive no State funding” and “therefore network reviews must take account of where customer demand is greatest.”

The NTA said it “will continue to examine options to meet the level of demand in the communities affected, including the contribution of Local Link services in rural areas such as Kilrickle.”

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Connacht Tribune

Coffins have to brought by tractor over flooded North Galway road



Cllr Declan Geraghty (Ind) and Cllr Peter Keaveney (FG) at the Creggs road out of Glenamaddy where flooding occurs on an annual basis.

Annual flooding on a stretch of road in North Galway requires the necessity for a tractor and trailer to bring the remains of a deceased person from the area to the local cemetery.

This was the claim at a local area meeting when it was demanded that Galway County Council carry out flood relief works on the road near Glenamaddy which is left under several feet of water every winter.

It resulted in Cllr Peter Keaveney tabling a motion at the Ballinasloe Municipal Council meeting that essential drainage works take place along the Roscommon road out of the town now that water levels are low. He wants this carried out within the next two weeks.

During one of the worst winters in recent years, the road was closed for three months and the Fine Gael councillor and agricultural contractor said that he pulled around 20 cars out of the flooded stretch when motorists decided to take the chance of driving through it.

Even in drought conditions, the levels remain incredibly high and this is mainly down to a local turlough that retains water throughout the year.

While he said that Galway County Council officials were extremely helpful, the problem lay with the Office of Public Works who would not allow drainage works as the road is situated in a Special Area of Conservation.

Senior Executive Engineer Damien Mitchell informed the meeting that Galway County Council are in a position to carry out some works but there are certain areas that only the Office of Public Works can drain.

Mr Mitchell said that the best way forward was a co-ordinated approach involving the County Council and the OPW while accepting that there was a major problem with flooding along this road.

In response, Cllr Keaveney said that this was a very acceptable move and added that a joint approach to the flooding in Glenamaddy was required at this stage and particularly with the winter approaching.

Williamstown’s Cllr Declan Geraghty said that residents were living in hell as some of them saw their houses destroyed by rising flood waters near Glenamaddy.

“There are even deceased people being brought by tractor and trailer to be buried which is an absolute disgrace. There is an opportunity to do this now or otherwise we are looking at flooding for the next 10 years.

“People have put everything into their homes only to see them destroyed when it comes to prolonged heavy rainfall.

“There is a solution to this problem and environmental issues should not take precedence,” he added.

The Independent councillor said that raising the level of the road, which leads to Creggs and onto Roscommon, was not the answer to the problem because the levels were so high.

Galway County Council have carried out several surveys of the area around the flooded road and officials told previous meetings that, subject to approval from the OPW, there was an engineering solution possible.

(Photo Cllr Declan Geraghty (Ind) and Cllr Peter Keaveney (FG) at the Creggs road out of Glenamaddy where flooding occurs on an annual basis.)

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Connacht Tribune

Teen arrested over €45,000 cocaine seizure



Gardaí have seized €45,000 of what they believe to be cocaine in Ballinasloe.

Gardaí attached to Ballinasloe Garda Station conducted an intelligence-led operation in the Dunlo Harbour area of the town yesterday.

During the course of this operation a quantity of suspected cocaine, estimated to be worth €45,000, concealed on derelict grounds was seized.

A male in his mid-teens was arrested at the scene and detained at Ballinasloe Garda Station on Sunday.

He has since been released with a file being prepared for the Garda Youth Diversion Office.

The focus of Operation Tara is to disrupt, dismantle and prosecute drug trafficking networks, at all levels.

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Connacht Tribune

Thousands on waiting list for student accommodation in Galway



The student housing crisis is ‘the worst it’s ever been’ – with thousands on waiting lists for rooms; hundreds relying on hostels and friends’ sofas; and countless more facing deferral or dropping out altogether.

The President of NUI Galway’s Students’ Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, told the Connacht Tribune that students had been left in a desperate situation, as she called for mass protests to have the issue addressed.

According to Ms Nic Lochlainn, 3,000 students were currently on the waiting lists for NUIG’s on-campus accommodation – Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village – with around 500 in line for any bed that might come up in the Westwood.

“Gort na Coiribe and Dunaras have told us their waiting lists are well into the hundreds too. I’ve only got to contact two of the hostels around town, but Kinlay and Snoozles have almost 200 students between them already – and they’re expecting more.

“The first years haven’t even arrived yet, and on top of all that, you have people in B&Bs and staying on their friends’ sofas,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn.

Pressure on the student rental market had been building for years, she said, but it had gone off the cliff edge this year as a perfect storm was created by increased student numbers and reduced bed availability.

“[Minister for Further and Higher Education] Simon Harris created new places on courses this year and talked about maximum access to education . . . I’m not sure how that works for students who are homeless.

“Because there weren’t many students around last year, some private landlords might have moved on. There was no new purpose-built accommodation delivered, and then Simon Harris creates new places with no new beds,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn of the causes of this year’s problems.”

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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