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Connacht Tribune

Councils clash over future of Galway Airport

Stephen Corrigan

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Galway City Councillors have demanded that a long-term strategy be drawn up for the County and City Council-owned Galway Airport – accusing both Council Executives of giving councillors contradictory information.

This comes as the City Council gave its stamp of approval to a further one year lease of the facility to the Galway Flying Club.

However, councillors on the city authority expressed concerns that their county counterparts were being given different information on the terms of the lease.

According to Cllr Donal Lyons (Ind), he had been made aware of differences in the wording of a letter informing councillors on both authorities of the application to extend the flying club’s licence.

In the letter to City Councillors, it stated that the extension was up to 2020, said Cllr Lyons, adding “in the one to Galway County Councillors, the wording said it will not be renewed after 2020”.

Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) said he wanted clarity for the members of Galway Flying Club – which had been in Carnmore for over 40 years – that it would still be able to operate there after next year.

“We need to keep aviation alive in Galway. The IDA market Galway as having an airport and while it may not be operating as an airport, flights can still land there,” he said.

Independent councillor Noel Larkin queried if some future aviation use could be maintained for the 115 acre site, given its strategic position for the multinational companies in Parkmore.

“Maybe not as a commercial airport, but to assist our multinationals. We have nine out of ten of the top medical companies in the world here in Galway,” said Cllr Larkin.

Cllr Alan Cheevers (FF) accused the County Council of going on a “solo run” with its future planning for the airport.

“There doesn’t seem to be any joined-up thinking with the City Council and County Council. One of the proposals for the site is a Park and Ride facility – this site is a very valuable asset for the city,” said Cllr Cheevers. “We need to see a plan.”

The Mayor, Mike Cubbard, sought clarity on whether or not Galway Fire Station was being lined up for a move to the airport site.

Negotiations to find a site for a new fire station have been ongoing for years and Carnmore had recently been suggested as a suitable location.

However, Director of Services Dermot Mahon said he had been liaising with colleagues in Galway County Council – who run fire services in both city and county – to find a site for a new station.

“I had a meeting with them last May and a number of sites were proposed. They were all within the city boundary,” he said, seemingly ruling out Carnmore as it’s in the county.

“The location in Carnmore wasn’t mentioned. I am not aware of any suggestion for Carnmore Airport,” added Mr Mahon.

Connacht Tribune

Limited go-ahead for marts

Francis Farragher

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Marts: Individual sales to be allowed.

MART managers and staff across the county are busy this week preparing operating protocols for approval by the Dept. of Agriculture that will allow for the limited sale of livestock during the current COVID-19 emergency.

On Tuesday, the Dept. of Agriculture confirmed that they would be allowing marts to handle livestock sales in a limited way – marts will liaise with buyers and sellers; arrange for the weighing of the animals; and process payments.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed, said that the Dept. had issued guidance to marts for ‘a very limited range of essential services’ that would not require people to assemble: the transactions would include calf sales, the weighing of livestock, and an online or brokerage service.

Ray Doyle of ICOS (Irish Co-operative Organisation Society) this week thanked the Government for their announcement, adding that ‘it was reasonable’ for a form of trading to continue to alleviate the current economic burden on farmers.

He pointed out that only mart staff would handle the animals; the buyer and seller would not have contact with each other; each could observe the weighing data; the buyer could view the animals from a distance; the sale would be completed electronically; no visitors or members of the public would be admitted; full sanitisation protocols would be observed; with the sale to be completed electronically.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Self-isolation success staves off Covid-19 surge – for now

Dara Bradley

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Anaesthetic Registrar Dr Robbie Sparks with Clinical Facilitator Claire Lavelle simulating an intubation of a patient with COVID-19 in the ICU at UHG. (Photo supplied by UHG because of visitor restrictions)

The predicted surge in Covid19-related admissions to Galway’s hospitals has been delayed – for now – giving much-needed breathing space to ramp-up preparations and increase Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity and beds for when it does hit.

But hospital management remains concerned in particular with the ‘significant’ number of staff in the West who have been taken off the frontline because they are ill from coronavirus, or self-isolating as a precaution after coming in close contact with an infected person.

And as the latest figures show 86 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Galway – seven times the figure from a fortnight ago – the HSE has conceded that local testing for the virus was suspended Sunday due to a shortage of testing kits. Limited testing resumed on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, although hospital chiefs in the West insist they have sufficient levels of personal protective equipment (PPE), nursing homes across Galway are facing a shortage of basic equipment such as masks, and many have appealed to the public for donations.

Chief Clinical Director Saolta Group, and consultant cardiologist, Dr Pat Nash, said UHG, the main Covid-19 hospital in the West, has experienced increased activity but ‘not a huge surge in admissions’.

“The hospital still has significant capacity available both on wards and ICU,” he said.

But Dr Nash stressed there was no room for complacency and the public needed to continue to observe social distancing, stay at home and practice hand hygiene.

 

See full story – and 23 pages of coverage on the Covid-19 crisis in Galway – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or available to buy as a digital edition via our website www.connachttribune.ie. The Tribune can also be ordered as part of your shopping delivery from most outlets now.

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Connacht Tribune

Loan sharks prey on families hit by pandemic

Denise McNamara

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Moneylenders have been targeting working class areas in Galway where hundreds of people have lost their jobs in the lockdown, encouraging them to take out loans with exorbitant interest rates.

Deputy for Galway East Sean Canny said he had received several reports of estates in the city where leaflets had been distributed recently by legitimate loan sharks.

“These people are licensed so they are not doing anything illegal but I do think it’s immoral in these times and my advice is to ignore money lenders,” he stressed.

“We have credit unions where people can go to for advice and for loans and we have MABS [Money Advice and Budgeting Service] which can provide advice that maybe they don’t need more money but may need to manage their budget better.

“People don’t make the best decisions when they’re stressed but I would really urge them not to go down this road because they can charge interest rates of 187% which is really fleecing people.”

Paul Bailey, Head of Communications at the Irish League of Credit Unions, said they have also been getting reports of leaflets being dropped by moneylenders in working class areas.

 

See full story – and 23 pages of coverage on the Covid-19 crisis in Galway – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or available to buy as a digital edition via our website www.connachttribune.ie. The Tribune can also be ordered as part of your shopping delivery from most outlets now.

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