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Councillors wild at State body’s road opposition

Declan Tierney

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The county is being held to ransom by the National Parks and Wildlife Service who have stopped the upgrade and realignment of the main road from Oughterard to Clifden on environmental grounds.

The presence of the pearl mussel has resulted in a vital piece of road infrastructure from proceeding and local councillors have vented their anger and frustration at this body.

There was even a suggestion that Ireland leave the European Union because there was so much of the county designated as environmentally sensitive and there were a number of major infrastructural projects scrapped as a result.

It resulted in a heated debate in Galway County Council with several councillors calling for the scrapping of the National Parks and Wildlife who were accused of halting progress in the county.

Clifden’s Cllr Eileen Mannion said that the region depended hugely on tourism but the main road through Connemara, the N59, was in a terrible state in places and a new road was required.

She said that many cancer patients used the road several times a week to go into Galway and they find that it is in “a horrendous state” in places. Cllr Mannion added that as long as the National Parks and Wildlife with opposed to it, there was no chance of it going ahead.

Cllr Jim Cuddy that Galway was “being held to ransom” by the NPWS. He described them as a faceless body making decisions from Dublin. He called on Galway County Council to challenge this ruling.

Director of Services for Roads, Liam Gavin told councillors that the new road received the approval of Transport Infrastructure Ireland (formerly the National Roads Authority) and would be done in two phases – from Oughterard to Maam Cross and then from Maam Cross to Clifden.

He explained that planning permission had been granted fir the first section but it was a condition that approval be given by the National Parks and Wildlife but this was not forthcoming. Mr Gavin said that the Council were now looking at their options which include the provision of an overlay on the road.

Cllr Tom Welby from Oughterard said that it was the worst decision he had come across during his time on Galway County Council and added that it was “the beginning of the end” for property in Connemara.

“This decision is killing the local economy. It is madness what is going on. There are 400 acres of land in South Connemara which is designated a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) which burns every year in the heat. How can this be an environmentally sensitive area,” Cllr Welby added.

Another independent Cllr Tomas O Curraoin said that Connemara was dependant on this road for tourism. He added that in its current state it is very dangerous and health and safety issues had to come into play.

“If I had my way, we would leave Europe. We never died of hunger before 1972 but at the moment we have no say in the running of our own state. We have to stand up against them”, he said.

Another Connemara Councillor Seosamh O Cualain described it as “a disgrace”. He said that the land should be bought and the road built as a matter of urgency. He also said that it was disgraceful that outer bypass for Galway city was being held up for similar reasons.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City publican in heroic River Corrib rescue

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A city publican who last week helped save the life of a woman who had entered the waters of the Corrib off Wolfe Tone Bridge has made an appeal for young people to ‘look out for each other’.

Fergus McGinn, proprietor of McGinn’s Hop House in Woodquay, had been walking close to Jury’s Inn when he saw the young woman enter the river.

He then rushed to the riverbank on the Long Walk side of the bridge, jumped into the water, spoke to the woman and stayed with her until the emergency services arrived.

The incident occurred at about 3.45pm on Friday last, and a short time later the emergency services were on the scene to safely rescue the woman.

“She was lucky in that the river level was very low and she didn’t injure herself on the rocks and stones just under the water.”

He also appealed to the public to support in whatever they could the work being done by groups like the Claddagh Watch volunteers.
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

Pubs face court – for serving booze on their doorsteps!

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have warned city publicans that alcohol cannot be served outside their own premises – even in newly-created on-street spaces designated by Galway City Council as suitable for outdoor dining.

Councillor Mike Crowe (FF) said three Gardaí visited a number of city centre pubs on Thursday afternoon informing them that drinking outdoors was not allowed under licensing laws.

“They warned publicans and restaurants that the area outside their premises is not covered by the licence, and therefore under national legislation, they are breaking the law, because they are not entitled to sell alcohol in non-licensed areas.

“The operators were told that this was an official warning, and they will be back again in a few days and if it persisted, they [Gardaí] would have no option but to issue a charge and forward files to the Director of Public Prosecution. You could not make this up.

“All of the big operators were visited, and received an official warning, and they will be charged if they persist. According to the guards, they’re getting instructions from [Garda headquarters in] Phoenix Park,” he said.

The matter will be raised at a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee on Monday.
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

Call for 50% affordable homes in new Galway City Council estates

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The next Galway City Development Plan should include a greater provision for affordable housing than that recommended by Government, a meeting of the City Council has heard.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) told the meeting that while it was the Government’s intention to introduce a stipulation that new estates should have 10% affordable housing, Galway should go further – building anything up to 50% affordable in developments that are led by the local authority.

The Affordable Housing Bill, which is currently working its way through the Oireachtas, proposes that all developments should have 10% affordable and 10% social housing as a condition of their approval.

Affordable housing schemes help lower-income households buy their own houses or apartments in new developments at significantly less than their open market value, while social housing is provided by local authorities and housing agencies to those who cannot afford their own accommodation.

The Council meeting, part of the pre-draft stage of forming the Development Plan to run from 2023 to 2029, was to examine the overarching strategies that will inform the draft plan to come before councillors by the end of the year and Cllr McDonnell said a more ambitious target for affordable housing was absolutely necessary.

“It must be included that at least 50% of housing must be affordable [in social housing developments],” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) who questioned if the City Council was ‘tied down’ by national guidelines, or if it could increase the minimum percentage of affordable housing required locally.
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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