Galway County Council is still owed €8.5 million by the State, for costs incurred in the construction of the Cill Rónaín and Caladh Mór harbour contracts.
And according to election candidate, Cllr Sean Canney, the local authority has now warned that it is considering legal action to recoup outstanding costs on the projects.
The Cé an Chalaidh Mhóir on Inis Mean was opened in 2008 at a cost of €14m, while Kilronan Harbour costing some €40 million was finished in 2012.
But a local government audit of the coffers from 2013 has queried the size and length of the debt incurred for work on Kilronan and Caladh Mór harbour developments.
Galway County Council had administered the contract on behalf of the Department. That money was spent on the projects after a commitment was given to be reimbursed from central coffers.
But sometime later it became evident that the Department left the Council short of funding by a massive €8.5 million.
“When this first came to my attention a number of years ago I was informed by officials that the Council followed all procedures required under the contract. The contractor has been fully paid. The Department have failed to reimburse the Council,” said Cllr. Canney.
“It is a major cost that Galway County Council cannot afford to carry,” he added.
“I am calling on Minister Heather Humphrey’s to act immediately to sort this issue. Court proceedings will cost more public money and will be of no benefit to anyone,” he concluded.
Budget money set aside for study into tidal pools
Councillors have agreed to provide funding for a feasibility study into reopening the tidal pools in Salthill.
During the Galway City Council budget meeting this week, a balanced budget of €103 million for next year was passed by councillors.
Included in this was €44,000 for a feasibility study to be carried out to reopen the tidal pools at Ladies’ beach, which has been described as a “a huge asset to the city” by Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath.
Support for the reviving of the pools grew legs after an online petition attracted over 4,500 signatures.
Up to 100 of the 518 submissions made under the City Development Plan currently being drafted supported reopening the pools which have been out of action since the late 1970s.
Meanwhile, the four biggest allocations in the budget for 2022 were nearly €39m set to be spent on housing and building; €17m on recreation and amenity and €14m on road, transport and safety and €13m on environmental services.
There was broad welcome from around the table for plans to employ three more community wardens; six additional permanent general operative posts; four seasonal outdoor workers and two housing maintenance staff.
The two key projects earmarked for Council-owned land at the Dyke Road and Sandy Road to create “affordable, residential-led and mixed used development” will also get nine specialists to progress them with the Land Development Agency.
But there was widespread criticism that the City Council continues to be the poor relation when compared to other cities around the country.
Because it has been categorised in ‘Band 5’ since 1991 – along with rural local authorities such as Carlow, Leitrim and Monaghan – its workforce is meant to be capped at 487. Last May it was at 524, with plans to increase that by 30 more next year due to increased projects and pressure on services. But these posts will have to undergo rigorous assessment by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
The ‘controlling pact’ of councillors made adjustments of €423,000 to stump up for their own projects. They achieved these savings by cutting the IT budget by €60,000, culling €220,000 earmarked to create a new project management unit to oversee large projects and €50,000 for a tourism promotion fund.
City Hall’s plan to increase grave opening charges to reap €15,000 was overturned as was their recommendation to up the price of using public toilets from 20c to 50c, creating revenue of €23,000.
Their proposal of an €8 per day charge to park in the Dyke Road, Cathedral and College Road car parks was also scaled back to €6.50, which will bring in extra income of €149,000 instead of €298,000. A monthly €100 parking ticket will also now be available for daily users, which will reduce the charge to just over €3 per day.
Among the biggest winners in the revised budget was a feasibility study for the Salthill tidal pools (€44,000); Westside running track lights (€40,000); Greenfields walking path (€32,000) and €30,000 each for the castles restoration project and repairing roads and footpaths in Old Mervue.
The ‘pact’ projects were slammed by out-voted councillors as discriminating against residents on the east side of the city, who make up one third of the population, but allegedly only attracted 10 per cent of these adjustments.
This was rejected by the councillor leading the ruling pact’s budget, Cllr Frank Fahy (FG), who said in fact €105,000 would go to projects on the east side out of the €423,000 even though just one councillor in the pact was from that ward – Cllr Terry O’Flaherty (Ind).
Slamming the cut of €60,000 to ICT, Cllr Mike Crowe said never in the history of the City Council had technology been so important at it facilitated staff to work from home and in an era where cyberattacks had paralysed the Health Service Executive (HSE) and NUI Galway.
He also said the monthly parking charge would effectively take advantage of people who were only worked in the office two or three days.
“Galway City East has one third of the population but the adjustments by the pact equate to 10.5% – €49,000 – that’s 10-11% to be spent on the east. The rest is Galway City West and Galway City Centre [wards]. That’s a reflection of the pact. Last year the east got 18% of adjustments and 31-33% went to other wards…some of these adjustments are at the least very questionable and should be reconsidered.”
Cllr Alan Cheevers (FF) said he found the adjustments “very parochial”. There was nothing to fund improvements in Doughiska, Roscam, Headford Road and Tuam Road.
“We’re elected to represent the people of the city so I believe we should allocate it fairly.”
The budget passed, with just one councillor, Mike Crowe, voting against it. Another vote to alter the 2009 Parking Bylaws to allow for a monthly parking ticket was passed 11 votes to seven.
Truckers to take to the roads in droves – for pre-Christmas fundraising run
A convoy of big-wheel truckers will take to Connemara’s roads next month – in a variation of the iconic Coca Cola Christmas ad.
That’s the plan announced by local advocate Paddy Rock, who wants to recreate that festive feeling – and raise money for two worthy causes in the process.
But the truckers won’t bring the region to a standstill – because they will be taking to the roads with just their cabs, all decked out in Christmas lights!
Launching the Joyce Country Truck Run & Light Show, Mr Rock outlined the charity route, beginning at Peacock’s Hotel and travelling through Maam, Cornamona and Cloughbreac before finishing in Clonbur village, where the annual lighting of the Christmas tree will officially trigger the start of the festive season.
The whole spectacular will benefit two charities – Galway Parkinson’s Association and My Canine Companion, Autism and Therapy Services, because both support two local families in the area.
Paddy Rock, founder of the Joyce Country Truck Run, is also a member of the Galway Parkinson’s Association – an organisation he said had helped him cope with his own diagnosis of the illness.
“It has help me manage my Parkinson’s with tips and helpful information from other members and of course the therapies the association provides,” he said.
And that was why he decided to come up with the truck run.
He said he always had an idea that he would love to make his own version of the Coke Christmas ad with all the trucks lit up for Christmas.
And he knew that Maam Valley – all lit up with the finest trucks around decorated in Christmas lights – was the place to recreate such an iconic scene and do it for the benefit of deserving charities.
Aoife Conroy, mother of Robbie Conroy-Dermody, revealed the positive impact on her little boy after he received his assistance dog, Archie, from My Canine Companion – Autism and Therapy Services.
My Canine Companion trains assistance dogs for children with autism and other needs.
The dog’s primary role is to be a safety anchor when out in public for the children as the child is attached to the dog’s vest via a safety belt ensuring the child is safe at all times – bu,t they are also companions, sensory and emotional supports…and most importantly a friend.
Robbie Conroy-Dermody is autistic and was delighted to receive his assistance puppy-in-training Archie back in August.
Aoife said that Archie had changed her son’s life already after only a couple of months of being with them.
“Robbie made a friend on his first day of school – something that would otherwise be very difficult for him,” she said.
“A boy in his class was so taken with Archie and – after his teacher told the class Archie was a magic doggie to help Robbie – she later heard the boy tell his mother that Robbie was his friend, and he had a magic doggie.
“So thanks to Archie, the magic dog, Robbie now has two best friends,” she said.
The launch event also heard from Marie Cahill, Chairperson of the Galway Parkinson’s Association, who told the gathering that the GPA provides physiotherapy and speech and language therapy for over 100 members per week.
“These therapies are vital for the members of this group – and the level of support for this event shows just how important they are to the people of Galway and their families,” she said.
The first annual Joyce Country Truck Run & Light Show in aid of Galway Parkinson’s Association and My Canine Companion – Autism and Therapy Services will commence on December 11 from Peacock’s Hotel, Maam Cross, at 5pm.
The event is open to articulated lorry cabs – no trailers – and to smaller trucks such as refrigerated six wheelers and delivery trucks.
For more information on how to register for the event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org – and to contribute go to https://www.idonate.ie/JoyceCountryTruckRun
Galway Lions roar into festive action!
A Galway charity is once again focussed on the real spirit of Christmas – by raising funds to provide festive vouchers for over 400 families and individuals in need this Yuletide season.
To do that, Galway Lions Club has this week launched four separate fundraising drives – including its annual Radio Auction on Galway Bay Fm.
This annual extravaganza – overseen by ‘auctioneer’ Keith Finnegan and broadcast live on his Galway Talks show – has hundreds of great gifts under the hammer, with the proceeds then helping hundreds of needy families this Christmas.
The #lionsauction2021 will take place on Friday, December 3, between 9am and 12 noon – live on Galway Talks with Keith Finnegan and streamed live on: https://www.facebook.com/GalwayLionsClub.ie
The Lions expect to have over 230 items for sale including weekends away, fuel and food vouchers, tickets to sporting events, shopping vouchers and furniture.
You can bid online from 9am on Tuesday next, November 30, until 12 noon on Friday, December 3, on the auction website at www.galwaylionsclub.ie, or on the day by phone on 091-353250 where lines will be manned throughout the show.
On top of the Radio Auction, they will also be holding cash collections at local supermarkets and shopping centres, as well as a November swim and soft toy raffles – and they are once again appealing to the businesses and people of Galway to help them to help others.
“The Lions Club is a community-based organisation working to help those families in need. We work closely with many local organisations on a joint community basis – sourcing donations from businesses, working with other local charities and organisations and all our volunteers come from a wide spectrum of the local community in Galway,” said Galway Lions President Fergal McAndrew.
“Our joint wish is to give that extra little bit of help that might just make the difference and maybe help families in these tough challenging times. All of this is only possible through the generosity of the people and businesses of Galway,” he added.
The Lions Club Supermarket Collection, year on year, yields circa €18,000 which is a vital contribution to funding club projects – and volunteers are hoping to at least match that again this year.
The cash collections will be evident throughout the city from the last weekend of November and the first two weekends of December.
“Given the restrictions we were faced with relative to our cash collections at supermarkets last year and thankfully to a lesser degree this year, we have looked to iDonate to support our traditional cash collection fundraising efforts,” said Fergal McAndrew.
And one of those iDonate contributors will also win a hotel break at the Delphi 4* hotel and spa. That Draw will take place on December 18, and the winner will be notified by email.
You can also support Galway Lions by buying a line to win one of those big friendly cuddly bears that you will see on display in offices, shops, sports club, gyms and other venues. All the money goes directly to the Christmas appeal.