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CITY TRIBUNE

Councillor slams breach of planning on protected wall

Denise McNamara

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The city’s planning enforcement department and the Lough Corrib Navigation Trustees have been lambasted for “sitting on their hands” while a protected wall was demolished and an entrance built from it to a private dwelling.

The Lough Corrib Navigation Trustees, run by a board of directors made up of council officials and councillors, is the legal owner and manager of waterways and water infrastructure in the city.

Galway City Councillor Pádraig  Conneely said he had been contacted by Henry Street residents who were alarmed to see that part of the wall along the Eglinton Canal tow path behind their homes was being knocked.

He said he alerted the Galway City Council’s enforcement section.

However, when officials visited the site they were unable to talk with anyone. A search of the land registry found no record of the owners after the property was sold last December.

Cllr Conneely said he, too, visited the property and was able to talk with workers who are building an extension to the house. He also found out without much difficulty who had bought the home.

“So they knew this was happening and they did nothing to stop it. All they did was issue a letter or two. What good is that after the horse has bolted,” he fumed.

“This wall is a protected structure and a part of the real old Galway going back to the foundation of the city. It’s actually owned by the Lough Corrib Navigation Trustees and no entries or exits have been allowed on it for at least 50 years.”

A letter from the Lough Corrib Navigation Trustees sent to the owner states that the wall does not form part of the property register and is listed as a protected structure under the Galway City Council Development Plan as it is constructed using excavated stone from the canal.

It states that the board of the trustees is seeking legal advice on the issue.

“So now they are going into legal proceedings which will take years and years and cost a lot of money instead of acting immediately when I contacted them while the job was still going on. They’ll probably ask the owner to restore the wall but there will be retention applications and all sorts of nonsense,” said Cllr Conneely.

“The residents are very upset. This is a very old part of the city and should not be touched by anybody. Who’s going to protect the heritage of the city if the Council won’t?”

Derrick Hambleton, chairman of the Galway branch of the environmental watchdog An Taisce, said the Eglinton canal, banks and tow path are protected.

“Also included are the walls, which are part of the canals curtilage. I understand that it is not policy to allow openings through this wall.”

A spokesman for Galway City Council said the matter had come to the attention of Galway City Council “in the past couple of days”.

“A warning letter is being issued to the property owners in relation to the unauthorised development,” he told the Galway City Tribune.

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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