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 tributes to loved ones
These past few months have seen so many communities left to silently mourn family members and friends, whose funerals they would have attended in such numbers, were it not for the current Covid-19 restrictions.
But those that are gone have not been, and will not be, forgotten – which is why we want to open the pages of the Connacht Tribune to you to tell their stories.
If you’ve lost a loved one, whether to Covid-19 or not, or if your community or organization or sports club is mourning the death of a valued member and friend, you can email us your tribute and we will publish it in our papers.
All you have to do it to click on the above link, and it will take you to a short set of questions which you can fill in – and then add whatever you feel tells the story of the life of your friend, family member or colleague.
You can email that with a photograph to us, to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can post it to ‘Obituaries’, Connacht Tribune, 21 Liosban Business Park – and please enclose a contact number in case we have any queries.
We sympathise with anyone who has lost a loved one at this awful time, particularly given that so many people were unable to mourn with them and their family in person – and we hope that this will help in some small way to show those family members that we are all united in grief, even from a distance.
This is an additional feature we are providing alongside our long-established weekly Family Notices section where loved ones are remembered immediately by Months Mind Notices and annual anniversary remembrances. You can contact our team for further details at email@example.com
Gardaí seek help in locating missing man
Gardaí have sought help in locating a man missing in Galway since the end of December.
34-year-old Luke Davoren was last seen in the University Road area on December 30.
He is described as having fair hair, 6ft in height and having an athletic build. He was last seen wearing a grey hoody, brown leather jacket, blue jeans and brown leather boots. He also had a black back pack in his possession.
Gardaí and Luke’s family are very concerned for his welfare and have urged him to make contact.
Anyone with information, particularly any road users with dash cam footage of the Newcastle/University Road areas between 1am – 2am on December 30, is asked to contact Galway Garda Station on 091 538000.
Hospitals cope with overcrowding and staff shortages as Covid crisis peaks
Confirmed cases of Covid-19 continue to skyrocket in Galway, as virus-related frontline healthcare staff shortages persist and now overcrowding emerges as a new threat.
Galway experienced four days of record-breaking positive case notifications in the past week, as hospitalisations grew exponentially and pressure was heaped on the critical care units at University Hospital Galway (UHG) and Portiuncula.
Hospital management said it was unsure whether community transmission had peaked locally yet – and they expect hospitals to be under ‘significant pressure’ from Covid admissions well into February.
Nurses have highlighted how overcrowding in the Emergency Department of the county’s two main public hospitals has returned – some 112 patients were stuck on trolleys awaiting admission to UHG and Ballinasloe on five mornings in the past week. Meanwhile, it hasn’t yet been officially confirmed that the new UK variant of Covid is present in Galway, but authorities believe it is.
The latest data shows there has been no let-up in new cases notifications in Galway – 604 confirmed cases were notified for Monday, the highest in Ireland and Galway’s worst ever day by a long shot.
It was a frightening figure but it was not for one day and was part of clearing the backlog of cases over Christmas and New Year, the HSE said.
That pushed Galway’s 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 to 1033.9 more than double what it was a week ago and eight times what it was a fortnight ago. Some 2,668 new Galway cases were notified in the fortnight to midnight Tuesday.
Read the full story and comprehensive coverage of the Covid-19 crisis in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie