Bradley Bytes: Council’s doublespeak over Shantalla helipad

Shantalla lets the HSE know what it thinks about 'land-grab'.

Helicopter landing pads at hospitals are life-saving infrastructure. They are vital. Without them, more people die.

University Hospital Galway needs a helicopter landing pad. Of that there is no doubt. Everybody agrees that UHG needs to facilitate helicopter landings.

Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

It seems odd that that even has to be stated. But in the past, people who have complained about the shocking manner in which the Health Service Executive, with the tacit compliance of Galway City Council, has overstayed its welcome at the ‘temporary’ helicopter landing pad at community land at Shantalla, has been attacked for being anti-Coast Guard or against life-saving.

That, of course, is bunkum; but the HSE and Council are quite happy that such an impression is formed. They want to paint opponents of the cynical land-grab at Shantalla as the bad guys, who would much prefer to uphold planning laws than to save people’s lives through helicopter landings at an illegal landing pad.

But step back for a moment, from the emotions of what the HSE, with the acquiescence of the Council, is using the land in Shantalla for. And look at the facts of the situation.

What we know is that the HSE was given the community land in November 2013, for six months. The ‘temporary’ landing facility is still there today. We also know that the HSE has a second helipad inside on land that was not siphoned-off from locals.

City Hall, instead of insisting on enforcing planning laws, has decided to do a grubby little deal with the HSE: ‘You can keep your helipad, lads, if we can build a bus corridor through the hospital grounds’ is the gist of the local authority’s position.

Nothing that the Council leverages out of the HSE now, can disguise that it has singularly failed the people of Shantalla, who in good faith supported the transfer of land for use as a helipad five years ago, on condition it was temporary.

Consider, for a moment, that the land in question was illegally occupied, not by the HSE for use as a helipad, but, for example, by a group of Travellers to live on.

Before you could say the words ‘caravan cavalcade’, City Hall would have applied for a court injunction to move them on.

No such haste in seeking an injunction against the HSE. This, despite the HSE having plenty of land (legally) in its possession, including surface car parking space within the Newcastle campus, to facilitate a helicopter pad.

 *For more Bradley Bytes see this week’s Galway City Tribune