Some staff members within the “inner sanctums” of Galway City Council treated the elected councillors “like a bit of dirt on your shoe”, it was claimed at a meeting of the local authority.
In a barrage of criticism about unnamed local authority officials, councillors united to air their grievances. They complained about the requirement in some departments to make appointments for quick queries, the lack of access to the offices located in the adjacent Grammar School and the lack of transparency over ‘Manager’s Orders’ – decisions made by the Chief Executive Brendan McGrath.
Labour Cllr Billy Cameron said “in the bowels of the housing department” he was told to make an appointment before talking with an official.
“In 14 years here, and never having had an issue with anyone because I treat everyone with dignity, the treatment I get from two officials in this establishment, you wouldn’t do it to an elected official. I was told: ‘Before you sit on that chair again you make an appointment’. It was two minutes of that official’s time,” he fumed.
Fianna Fáil’s Ollie Crowe said he is often left standing outside in the rain for long spells while trying to get access to the Grammar School, which he likened to Fort Knox. He demanded to have the access code.
“We’re being treated like a bit of dirt on your shoe,” he exclaimed to Director of Service for Transportation, Recreation, Amenity and Corporate Services, Tom Connell, who was standing in for Mr McGrath.
Cllr Padraig Conneely (FG) said under the Local Government Act councillors were entitled to see Manager’s Orders, which should be available for inspection at every council meeting.
“This Council is the only council in Ireland – every other one has Manager’s Orders available except this one. Why are we being denied seeing Manager’s Orders? Are there any sweetheart rules going on? Are there any underhand deals?”
He withdrew the latter claim after an objection by Cllr Declan McDonnell.
Mr Connell apologised to Cllr Cameron, saying he should not have been treated liked that and he would take it up with the relevant staffer. He said the entry code would be circulated to all councillors.
The Manager’s Orders had been withdrawn pending clarification about the new data protection regulations. But Head of IT Alfie Jones reported it had been confirmed that councillors were entitled to see them. They would be made available shortly, Mr Connell said.
Galway family’s light show adds magic to Christmas
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Carrick Family Light Show returns tonight (Friday) as 70,000 lights are illuminated in aid of a worthy local charity.
The man behind the lights spectacular, James Carrick, says test runs this week have proven successful and the family is ready to mark another Christmas in style.
“This is our fourth Christmas doing it. We started in 2019, but Covid was around for the last two years so it will be great this year not having to worry about that so much,” says James, who has spent the last few weeks carefully rebuilding the show at his home in Lurgan Park, Renmore.
He’s added “a few bits and pieces this year” – his brother buying the house next door has provided him a ‘blank canvas’ to extend.
Over the past three years, the show has raised almost €30,000 for local charities and James hopes to build on that this year – offering the light show for free, as always, and giving the opportunity to donate if people wish to do so.
The show runs nightly from 6.30pm, Monday to Saturday, with an extra kids show on Sundays at 5pm at 167 Lurgan Park (H91 Y17D). Donations can be made at the shows or by searching ‘idonate Carrick Family Light Show’ online.
‘Chaos’ for Christmas as Martin junction works delayed again
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists attempting to get into Galway are facing a nightmare before Christmas as continued delays to the works at the Martin roundabout create traffic chaos on the east side of the city.
Anger over the controversial project to remove the roundabout at Galway Clinic intensified this week as the completion date was pushed out to February – nearly a year after works began and six months later than the supposed deadline.
Local councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) told the Galway City Tribune that he had lost all confidence in the Transport Department in the City Council and hit out at their “outsourcing the problem” to private contractors.
He said despite repeated representations from him, the local authority was refusing to take responsibility for the bedlam caused by the works, which he said had resulted in “three minor collisions in the last five weeks”.
“The bottom line is that this has been an absolute shambles and I’ve lost all faith in senior officials in City Hall. When I raised the issue again this week, I was accused of looking for newspaper headlines – they will not take responsibility,” said the City East councillor.
“It’s like an obstacle course up there, and now they’re saying February for completion. I’ve no confidence it will even be done by then – they’re out of their depth. If you look at what they’re saying, they say they’ll be doing the surfacing until February,” continued Cllr Cheevers, anticipating that works could still be ongoing next March or April.
In a statement issued by contractors Fox Building Engineers Ltd and Galway City Council, it was claimed that “supply chain issues” had impacted severely on the project.
Motorists this week reported delays of up to an hour just to travel the short distance from Briarhill Shopping Centre as far as the Doughiska Road-Dublin Road junction, a distance of less than 2km.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the December 2 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Councillors rubber stamp ‘temporary’ helipad after nine years in place
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Health Service Executive (HSE) came under fire over the ‘temporary’ helipad serving University Hospital Galway at a meeting to finalise the Galway City Development Plan for 2023-29.
Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, made a point of publicly highlighting his dissatisfaction with the HSE, calling on them to urgently “regularise” the planning permission for the helipad.
BY ANDREW HAMILTON
Speaking on the issue, Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) said that he mistrusted the HSE’s proposal concerning the helipad, saying that previous promises about the site had not been kept.
Currently, University Hospital Galway operates the helipad to transport medical emergencies on Council-owned land in Shantalla – it has been used for past nine years, despite the HSE saying it would be used for six months.
The temporary structure, the busiest helipad in Ireland, transports patients from as far north as Donegal to the hospital.
Councillors voted to change the Galway City Development Plan to provide for a helipad at this location but urged the HSE to normalise the planning permission at the site and to provide compensation to the local community for the loss of a section of the park.
Mr McGrath said that he wouldn’t “wait forever” for the HSE to bring the site in line with the planning laws.
Last month marked the ninth anniversary of when the Saolta University Hospital Group gave a commitment to the people of Shantalla about the public land it borrowed.
Tony Canavan, the then Chief Operating Officer, and now CEO of Saolta, said that the land would be used to accommodate a helipad at the rear of UHG for six months only.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the December 2 edition of the Galway City Tribune where there is extensive coverage of rezoning decisions under the City Development Plan. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.