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CITY TRIBUNE

Connacht head to the RDS for first of three big derbies over festive period

Dara Bradley

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Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend who is looking forward to the festive period, both on and off the field.

‘CHRISTMAS time, cricket, thongs and sunshine’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as Cliff Richard’s classic Christmas carol but they might be more apt lyrics for an Australian audience, judging by Andy Friend’s description of the festive season Down Under.

This is the Aussie’s first Christmas in Galway; and while it’s markedly different from what he’s accustomed to, the Connacht head coach is enjoying the festive buzz of his adopted home.

“The city comes alive, doesn’t it? I actually spent Sunday walking through Eyre Square in the Christmas Market. It’s very different to home where we’ve got sunshine and thongs and a game of cricket. But here you’ve got Irish coffee and a few other nice things to think about. I’m looking forward to it (Christmas in Galway), I’ve got my family over here, so it should be a good time,” said Friend.

He’s looking forward, too, to three cracking Christmas inter-provincials over the coming weeks. First up is a bruising encounter at the RDS on Saturday (7.45pm) against Leinster, a derby that has produced a fair bit of niggle in recent years and some pre-match trash-talk (most notably in September from Ireland prop Cian Healy, who had a pre-match rant about respect, or the Westerners’ perceived lack of it).

Then it’s Ulster at home after Christmas (December 28) followed by Munster at the Sportsground in the first game of the New Year (January 5).

No rest for the wicked. And Friend is acutely aware of the importance of producing results against the provinces.

“They’re crucial, aren’t they? For any team, these three games in the Pro 14 can make you or break you. In our pool, we have Munster sitting ahead of us. Leinster and Ulster are sort of battling out the top in the other pool. We’re all pushing for spots and so it has that added flavour to it.

“You’ve got the obvious flavour of Irish players versus Irish players and everyone trying to impress Joe Schmidt and his coaching staff. Definitely it’s a juicy period, and great for the fans over Christmas to sit back and watch some quality rugby,” he said.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Gardaí bid to identify body recovered near Mutton Island

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Gardai have launched an investigation following the discovery of a body in Galway Bay yesterday afternoon.

A member of the public raised the alarm after spotting the body in the water while walking on the causeway to Mutton Island.

Galway Fire Service, Gardai and the RNLI attended the scene and recovered the body at around 4pm, before it was taken to University Hospital Galway for a post mortem.

It is understood that the body may have been in the water for some time.

Gardaí are currently examining a list of missing people in the city.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Land Development Agency rules out Merlin ‘land grab’

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Campaigners have warned the Land Development Agency (LDA) to keep its hands off Merlin Woods.

Local community group Friends of Merlin Woods said that the amenity on the east side of the city is not suitable for residential development.

It has sought clarification on whether the LDA has earmarked part of the recreational and amenity lands for housing, after it appeared on its online database of publicly-owned lands.

In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, the LDA said its database compiles a list of all State lands, not just land for development.

In relation to Merlin Woods, the LDA said: “Those lands aren’t included in the LDA developments in Galway. The lands database is a map-based tool which compiles all State lands and has no reflection on development potential.”

It came after Caroline Stanley of Friends of Merlin Woods raised concern that land within Merlin Woods had been earmarked for development.

“I’d be concerned that it’s marked as residential when it’s in RA (Recreational and Amenity) land. Some is marked ‘open space’ but some is marked as ‘new proposed residential’ on its [LDA’s] database. It makes us wonder why. We’d like clarity and to clear it up.

“The message we’d like to get out there is we need clarification, whether it’s a mistake on the Land Development Agency’s part, or whether it is an area that they consider as a residential area, which the community would be opposed to. We need clarity. It could be something that is in line for development later on, we don’t know, and we need clarity.”

Councillor Owen Hanley explained that the fears around Merlin Woods stem from legislation currently making its way through the Oireachtas that would strip councillors of powers to veto the transfer of land to the LDA for housing projects.

The Bill would also allow Government to direct what public lands – including those owned by local authorities – can be transferred to the LDA for development of social and affordable housing.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

‘Detractors’ could hold up €10m Spanish Arch flood defence scheme

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan has warned that the Office of Public Works and Galway City Council “may end up in the High Court” if they attempt to expedite plans for the €10 million flood defence scheme for the Spanish Arch and Docks areas.

Speaking at an Oireachtas Finance Committee meeting last week, the Minister for the Office of Public Works admitted his frustration at the length of time such projects take.

But he said that if he and the OPW attempted to “shave off time” in moving the project forwards, they would have to be mindful of “detractors” making accusations later and there being a legal challenge.

He was responding to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell, who said it was likely to be 2028 before the flood prevention works would be completed.

“It was revealed in November that it will be at least eight years before long-awaited flood defences are completed in the Spanish Arch and Docks areas – with the City Council estimating that it will be towards the end of 2028 before works conclude,” said Deputy Farrell.

Minister O’Donovan said: “The OPW is committed. There is money available. We do not have a worry about allocating money for capital spending. I say to Deputy Farrell, and to Galway City Council, that, if we can shave off time in advancing projects, we will gladly do so, but we have to be mindful of the fact that if our detractors make accusations later, we may end up in the High Court. We do not want that.”

(Photo: Flood Street in February 2014. Spanish Arch, Fishmarket Square and the Docks areas were flooded in storm weather during high tide. PHOTO BY JOE O’SHAUGHNESSY)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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