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Connacht Tribune

Councillors call for improved measures at rural crossroads



There are renewed demands for improved safety measures at a junction in a rural part of East Galway has seen a number of lives over the past few years.

The junction at Nutfield Cross claimed the life of a motorist back in 2014 – and according to Cllr Dermot Connolly at this week’s meeting of Galway County Council, another motorist was killed there in the past year.

The junction is located on the road between Ballinasloe and Kilconnell and it seems that a stop sign on one side is obscured because of overgrown shrubbery.

That has led the Sinn Fein Councillor to call for a staggered junction to be provided.

Cllr Connolly asked officials to make funding available in an effort to prevent further fatalities from taking place.

“I don’t care what it costs but to save a life at this junction is worth any money in my opinion.

“There are crashes there on a monthly basis and it is mainly due to the fact that cars are crossing the junction without stopping,” Cllr Connolly added.

It was announced a couple of years ago that €70,000 had been earmarked for improvements to be carried out but Cllr Connolly said that collisions were still occurring at this location.

He has now asked officials to advance works at the junction before another life is lost. He is calling for a special meeting of Ballinasloe Municipal Council to be convened with just this item on the agenda.

Chief Executive of Galway County Council, Kevin Kelly told the meeting that an additional €1 million of a roads grant had been secured and that Nutfield Cross will be a project for serious consideration. He asked the councillors from the Ballinasloe area to make a submission in this regard.

Cllr Aidan Donohue, who had previously raised the issue at Ballinasloe Municipal Council level, said that it would be ideal for a Low Cost Works Scheme and did not believe that it would take a colossal amount of money to put right.

He is now hoping that any funding made available be used to provide a staggered junction – similar to the works that were carried out several years ago at Cossan Cross on the main Athenry to Tuam road.

Even Gardaí in Ballinasloe have agreed that the junction at Nutfield Cross has been the scene of an unacceptable number of accidents over the past ten years.

It seems that there is a difficulty for motorists approaching the main Ballinasloe to Kilconnell road in identifying the ‘stop’ sign at the junction as it is obscured.

“It is a straight crossroads and motorists coming from the minor roads often cross without looking. It has been the scene of quite a number of serious accidents in recent years,” explained Cllr Donohue.

Connacht Tribune

Community fights back on hospital ‘downgrade by stealth’



Raw emotion, sadness and some anger filled the air at Clifden Town Hall on Sky Road last Sunday afternoon as a shaken community gave honest, personal accounts of the impact the closure by stealth of Clifden District Hospital would have on the people of North Connemara.

The public meeting was hastily organised after fears emerged on Friday that the HSE may transfer respite services from Clifden to Merlin Park Hospital, 50-plus miles away in Galway City.

Families were told their loved ones in Clifden Hospital may have to move home, or go to Merlin Park the following Monday, due to ‘issues with staffing’.

An axe has hung over Clifden Hospital for some years, but this latest move stirred the community to fight back to retain services locally.

Galway County Councillor Eileen Mannion (FG), who organised the public meeting with Senator Sean Kyne, said 625 people signed the attendance sheets and an estimated 650 people attended.

“The community effort spreading the word was unbelievable; the turnout was unbelievable,” she said.

“It wasn’t just anger; it was raw emotion in the room. Sadness. Family members spoke about the calls they got on Friday. The feeling that their elderly person was being rejected; that they weren’t being respected.

“One man stood up, three years waiting for respite care for a family member, and then to be told after a few days in there that she’d have to be taken home or to Merlin Park.

“We’re 50 miles from Galway. If there’s no traffic you might get to the outskirts in an hour but with the traffic in Galway, you could be another hour to get to Merlin Park. Not everyone has transport either and they’ve to rely on buses.

“A young woman stood up at the meeting and said her dad was dying in Galway. And she had to go to Saint Vincent de Paul to get money to pay for a B&B so that the family would be close to him when the end came. People gave their personal stories, and it was just heart-breaking.”

(Photo by Carmel Lyden: Teresa Conneely from Roundstone addresses people at the public meeting in Clifden Town Hall).

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

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Connacht Tribune

Pilgrim took to his feet to realise dream!



Clifden man Breandan O Scanaill, who is on a pilgrimage from his home town of Clifden to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, received a Mayoral welcome and a memorial crest when he arrived at the Asturian town of Navia last week.

Breandan, whose walk from his home outside Clifden to the reputed burial place of St James in Santiago, began in April, was walking through Navia in Spain when a local man came over to chat to him.

“He asked me about my journey and was interested in the fact that an Irish man had turned up in the town,” says Breandan, who had been admiring the Chapel of San Roque at the time.

The local man outlined the history of the building and the town to Breandan and they began chatting more generally about history and architecture – topics dear to the pilgrim’s heart.

Breandán’s new friend introduced himself as the Mayor of Navia, lgnacio Garcia Palacios, who invited the visitor from Clifden to visit the Town Hall.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Local Property Tax rate to stay unchanged despite Council chief’s plea



Councillors have agreed to keep the Local Property Tax (LPT) rate unchanged – despite pleas from management that Galway County Council is predicted to spend at least €22 million more than it brings in for the next two years.

County Chief Executive Jim Cullen had recommended an increase of 15% on the LPT rate for 2023 and 2024 – amounting to €2.1m extra in the coffers annually – which would bolster its case when it came to pleading for a greater share of funding from central government.

In an estimation of income and expenditure for the Council, taking into account “unavoidable” expenditure and income changes set to hit, the Council would run a deficit of €9.04m in 2023 and 13.2m in 2024 – well over €22m unless there was a change in finances.

“I am hopeful of an uplift in baseline [funding] levels . . . we cannot continue to ignore the fact that other councils have raised LPT and their citizens enjoy a better standard of services that in Galway,” he stressed.

He told a meeting this week that €9m would be needed to maintain services next year at the same level as 2022. This was due to significant cost increases given that inflation is reaching 9.6% currently. Pensions, gratuities and payroll increases from the national pay agreement, increments and additional staff were all adding to bigger outgoings.

Without that extra funding, it will be necessary to reduce spending by that amount with a negative impact on service and staffing levels, he said.

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

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