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Council’s concern over proposed Merlin Park nursing home

Enda Cunningham



The site of the proposed new Community Nursing Unit in Merlin Park.

Plans to construct a new 60-bed Community Nursing Unit on the grounds of Merlin Park Hospital – with dining rooms, family overnight room, treatment rooms and internal courtyard – have hit a stumbling block over traffic safety and parking.

The HSE proposal on the 4.4-acre site is for 25 bedrooms (with 50 beds) and a 10-bed dementia unit, all to be located behind Unit 10 at the far end of the Merlin Park campus.

However, the City Council wrote to the HSE earlier this month and said that a Traffic Impact Assessment included with the planning application did not take Merlin Park Lane (the access point behind the hospital) into consideration.

The Council has sought a revised traffic assessment, which must also address rat-running through the hospital and how it will be controlled.

The HSE has also been told to take into account their own masterplan for Merlin Park – which includes a new 1,150-bed elective hospital and a new ambulance base – and the fact that the main access on the Old Dublin Road “is not suitable in its current format and signalisation needs to be considered”.

Clarification has also been sought on parking in general and how spaces would be managed.

According to the HSE, the reason for the proposal is the replacement of Units 5 & 6 (community care) at the hospital, as they are out of date and do not meet the current requirements of the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) for patient quality.

The plans are part of a nationwide HSE proposal to deliver Community Nursing Units (CNUs) nationwide and is part of a specific bundle to construct nine units under a Public-Private Partnership programme.

“In general, a CNU is a residential care centre, providing modern in-patient accommodation and a variety of services/facilities for its residents, i.e., en suite bedrooms, family overnight rooms, communal day rooms for residents (sun rooms, activity rooms, quiet rooms), therapy rooms, hairdressing salon, pharmacy, kitchen/catering facilities and associated support, back of house and staff areas,” the application reads.

The plan involves the demolition of a carpenter’s workshop, storerooms and a former nurses’ accommodation building.

There are 91 parking spaces proposed on the site, including 28 south of Doughiska Road.

An objection on behalf of nine residents of Merlin Park Lane – the rear entry point to the hospital – pointed out that the use of the road for construction traffic would create “calamitous implications on an already catastrophic situation for residents and pedestrians”.

The objection notes that the cul de sac is a low-density residential area and was only ever intended to provide access to the hospital at designated peak times.

“The proposed development will result in the intensification of traffic flow through Merlin Park Lane which will be hazardous to residents and pedestrians alike.”

According to the application, the access gate is open 8am to 10am and 4pm to 6pm on weekdays only.

Residents added that the lane is four metres wide at a point just 100 metres from the rear gate of the hospital, and a 400-metre stretch has no footpaths or lighting.

Residents already have much difficulty in accessing and leaving their homes because of the volume of traffic, the objections said.

Rock-breaking would also “cause great upset, potential liability for residents and will interfere with the peaceful enjoyment of all residents”.

A separate objection signed by three residents of Merlin Park Lane said they were not against the development “as it seeks to deliver much-needed facilities to the greater community”, but traffic concerns had not been adequately addressed within the application process.

The objection noted that the Merlin Park Lane was not assessed as part of the Traffic Impact Assessment included with the application.

“No traffic monitoring calculations or projections for this access road are included. This is totally misleading in relation to the current traffic difficulties associated with this entrance and also the impact of the proposed development. It is strange that the closest access point to the development receives no detailed analysis whatsoever.

“The reality is that Merlin Park Lane has become a rat run for city-bound traffic in recent years. The intended restricted use for staff members of the hospital, whilst well intended, is not controlled in any way and this lack of control has resulted in the current situation. A combined analysis of traffic at both entrances would clearly evidence this,” the objection reads.

It adds that residents met with senior hospital officials on a number of occasions and a simple solution of installing an automatic managed traffic barrier was dismissed due to lack of funding.

The HSE has until October 1 to respond to the Council or the application will be deemed to be withdrawn.


Hero’s welcome following rescue of two women on Galway Bay

Stephen Corrigan



Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan, who rescued Sara Feeney and Ellen Glynn off Inis Oirr island, on their arrival back at the Galway RNLI Lifeboat Station at Galway Docks. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The miraculous rescue on Galway Bay yesterday of two young women from Knocknacarra brought 15 long hours of searching to a euphoric conclusion, as cousins Sara Feeney (23) and Ellen Glynn (17) were brought safely to shore.

A major search and rescue operation was launched after the pair went missing from Furbo Beach on Wednesday night, when they were swept away by a sudden wind while paddle boarding.

Claddagh fisherman and former Lifeboat shore crew member Patrick Oliver and his 18-year-old son Morgan joined the search early on Thursday morning and were the heroes of the hour after they discovered the two women on their boards, clinging to a lobster pot about two miles south-west of Inis Oírr, where despite their ordeal, they were described as “ok, but shaken”.

In the face of torrential rain and high winds overnight, both women had drifted almost 20 miles out to sea, but amazingly neither required serious medical attention.

Sara’s mother, Helen Feeney, raised the alarm shortly after 9pm on Wednesday evening when she noticed the pair missing as she walked their dog along the shore.

Sara, a daughter of Helen and Bernard Tonge, and Ellen, daughter Deirdre and well-known former captain of Galway United Johnny Glynn, were both said to be in good spirits at the hospital yesterday afternoon.

One relative told the Galway City Tribune that the family was “utterly humbled by the generosity of people” who had took part in the search and said, “unbelievable doesn’t even begin to describe it”.

“Thank you from all the family to everyone who helped, words will never express our gratitude.”
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

Photo: Patrick Oliver and his son Morgan, who rescued Sara Feeney and Ellen Glynn off Inis Oirr island, on their arrival back at the Galway RNLI Lifeboat Station at Galway Docks. Photo: Joe O’Shaughnessy.

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Galway farm operators fall fowl of locals

Dara Bradley



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Neighbours of Mad Yolk Farm have asked Galway City Council to determine whether planning permission is required for a portable chicken coop earmarked for the land in Roscam.

This week, Mad Yolk Farm has indicated that it will be adding chickens to the site, which has already been the subject of planning enforcement by the local authority.

In a Facebook post, the operators said they are planning to rear organic chickens on site, with neighbours fearing as many as 450 birds in the chicken ‘caravan’.

“Our chicken caravan is now built and our beaked ladies will arrive in eight days. We’ll be moving the hens onto fresh grass each day and they’ll be free to forage for insects and take mud baths. They’ll be free to behave like a chicken should,” the business said on social media.

It has prompted a neighbour of the property to write the Council to formally ask for a declaration “whether the work/development described in the form is or is not development or is or is not exempted development under Section 5 of the Planning and Development Act”.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Cold water poured on Spanish Arch ‘bushing’ sprinkler plan

Dara Bradley



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway City Council has poured cold water on a suggestion that it should install water sprinklers to deter ‘bushing’ at city centre hotspots for outdoor drinking, such as Spanish Arch.

Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) this week said the local authority should examine providing sprinklers, to deter bushing, after Spanish Arch and Middle Arch were packed with hundreds of revellers during the sunshine last weekend, and the areas were littered with alcohol bottles and cans.

Cllr Hoare said large crowds were prohibited from gathering outside due to Covid-19 social distancing guidelines, and if the partying continued “Galway will be the next county to be locked down”.

He said CCTV cameras should be installed at Spanish Arch and Middle Arch and added: “Galway City Council should consider installing sprinklers as a long-term solution.”

However, the City Council said it was not its intention to install sprinklers.

“It’s so hot at the moment, if you put out a sprinkler anywhere in Galway, people would just dance under it. We’re so unused to this muggy heat, that if you did that (installed sprinklers), on top of your 12-pack of Bacardi Breezers, or whatever it is young people drink these days, you’d have the biggest wet t-shirt competition this side of Ibiza – people would just dance under them. No, we have no plans for sprinklers,” remarked a City Council spokesperson.

He said the Council was unaware of a separate suggestion – announced by Mayor of Galway Mike Cubbard on social media – that certain city areas be exempted from the street drinking bylaws, to allow them to be monitored and controlled.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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