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Councils jettison another €100k on airport

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It is costing Galway City and County Councils €105,000 to lease Galway Airport to a commercial operator, which is making €10,000 alone in landing fees from private jets.

The Carnmore site, which was leased to Carnmore Aviation until December 15, was jointly purchased by the two local authorities from the Galway Chamber of Commerce when subsidies were withdrawn from Aer Arann to operate commercial flights there.

Oranmore Councillor Jim Cuddy asked what the loan repayments were and how much money the council was getting from leasing the facility at the budget meeting of Galway County Council.

He said 58 private planes had landed there since January and were being charged a landing fee of between €120 and €160 – amounting to nearly €10,000 in income. The facility had also been used by the Air Corps and Irish Coastguard to refuel.

He also queried Galway Flying Club’s contract to use the runway and what progress had been made regarding a proposal to turn the 115-acre site into an international hub for drones testing, which could generate 100 jobs.

“Is it true some of the assets on the site are for sale on Done Deal? That’s absolutely scandalous considering those assets were bought by the taxpayer,” he stated.

Interim Chief Executive Kevin Kelly said a lease agreement was put in place which saw the two councils pay €105,000 per annum to keep the facility open for aviation. At the expiration of the lease, the council was willing to enter a new agreement for 11 months but on the basis the local authorities would break even.

He did not want to replace an airport which had been subsidised by the Government with an aviation facility subsidised by the councils.

“Discussions are ongoing with interested parties. It remains to be seen whether there’s an outcome,” he explained.

“My understanding is the Galway Flying Club are independent of any other activity. We’re open to have that used . . . but I was not open to paying for the privilege of having someone on site.”

Cllr Cuddy told the Connacht Tribune the agreement was strange.

“We are actually paying them to be there – I’ve never heard of a property being leased to a commercial company that is costing us. This is also costing the council for repayments of the €1.1m loan, just how much I never got an answer about from the Executive,” he stated.

“Galway Chamber sold off that equipment at €500,000 – a knockdown price before the deal was done with the councils and a lot of that equipment was bought by the taxpayer.

“One fire tender alone cost €240,000 when it was bought. The runway cost €300,000. It was a good deal to buy the facility but they need to be more forthcoming about what it is being used for.”

He pointed out that a film company was currently renting out one of the hangars to film a 1916 series, the proceeds of which would go to the Carnmore Aviation rather than the council.

“I believe some form of aviation should be retained at Galway Airport because it’s vital for rescue services, it’s being used to transfer vital organs and the multinationals are using it to bring in their top executives and they’re a very important part of Galway commercial life.”

Cllr Joe Byrne proposed a motion – passed without a vote – calling on the councils to extend the current lease arrangements with Carnmore Aviation for a minimum of 11 months.

“The purpose of this motion is to ensure that we don’t have a situation on December 16, that the gates are closed, IAA licencing agreements expired and we are all asking how did we allow a situation develop which sees the end of a service for facilitating our multinational companies, Coastguard and Air Corps landings.”

He pointed out that the €105,000 from the councils was a contribution for matters relating to security, maintenance and insurance.

CITY TRIBUNE

Bikers do their bit to mark anniversary of blood service

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The Blood Bike team and supporters with the charity’ s newest motorbike, Cara, during the fundraising day at the Galway Plaza. Pictured are (from left) John Moylan, Bridie Lyons (Fundraising Manager), Sean Griffin, Fergus Turner, James Treacy, Pat McDonagh, Dave O'Leary (Chairperson), Ronan Kane (Fleet Manager), and Sergio Massidda.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Blood Bike West, and the big birthday was marked in style with a sun-drenched afternoon at Galway Plaza’s Bike Fest West.

Galway stuntman Mattie Griffin was the headline attraction; there was face painting, games, plenty of ice-cream – and hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts and families.

The birthday celebrations kicked off with a 160-strong motorcycle spin around the Galway countryside, raising well-needed funds for the volunteering efforts of Blood Bike West.

As a 100% volunteer-run and funded organisation, donations are vitally important for Blood Bike West to continue operating their medical transport in the West of Ireland.

Since its inception in 2012, demand for their volunteers’ services continues to grow:  collecting and delivering all manner of urgent medical items regionally and nationally, such as bloods, breast milk, medicines, scans, and equipment.

In 2021 alone, Blood Bike West delivered 983 urgent medical deliveries throughout the country.

As part of Galway City Councils Community, Blood Bike West undertook to operate a 24/7 service, including 165 medication deliveries from pharmacies to the self-isolating and vulnerable during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Since Blood Bike West’s inception in 2012, this increase sees the ongoing need to replace and renew their fleet of motorcycles.

Their motorbikes, Madison, Heather, Margaret, and newly inaugurated bike Cara, are regularly seen on Galway roads, delivering consignments to and from local and regional hospitals.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Park fun to mark Africa Day

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Pam Mncube-Zoki of Africa United Galway, speaking at the National Integration Conference at NUI Galway last week. The group are co-organisers of Africa Day which takes place in Salthill Park on May 28. Photo:xposure

On Saturday next (May 28) in Salthill Park, Galway’s African community invites people to join them in a celebration of culture as part of the national Africa Day celebrations.

Africa United Galway, emerging from lockdown and having hosted online festivals for the past two years, will be delivering a family fun day event.

Africa Day 2022 will reinforce a collaboration between Africa United Galway and Galway Africa Diaspora, Shining Light Galway and GoCom Radio (broadcasting live), who have worked to create a festival that will showcase Galway as a city of culture.

Among the performances on the day will be Afrobeat dancer Lapree Lala of Southside Moves, who will show how to dance in African style; Elikya Band will be bringing indigenous African Congolese music; The Youth Performances will be displaying their talent in rap, singing, speaking, and dancing and for the young at heart.

Galway Afrobeat performer Dave Kody will get the crowd moving and there will be poetry through spoken word and cultural displays. There will be a photo booth and face painting and everyone will get to have a taste of African cuisines.

In the spirit of inclusion and integration, The St Nicholas Collegiate Church Parish Choir will be presenting a special African performance as well as a feature presentation by the Hession School of Irish Dance, who will be presenting the famous Riverdance.

Also organised is a football friendly between the African community and An Garda Siochana.

The Mayor, Colette Connolly, will officially be opening the event with a keynote speech and several African Ambassadors are expected to be present on the day to reinforce the culture, beauty and strength of Africa and support for its people.

Africa Day is sponsored by Irish Aid and supported by Galway City Council.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Domestic Violence Response recorded highest number of clients in 24 years under Covid ‘shadow’

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At the launch of the Domestic Violence Response (DVR) Annual Report were Rachel Doyle and Elizabeth Power of DVR, Deputy Catherine Connolly and Anne Reynolds. Photos Sean Lydon

BY TIFFANY GREENWALDT-SIMON

A domestic violence support charity in Galway has recorded its highest number of clients in 24 years – “under the shadow” of Covid-19.

Domestic Violence Response (DVR), which is based in Moycullen, also reported its highest level of counselling support sessions in its 2021 annual report published last week.

The charity saw 136 new clients in 2021, and a total of 266 people utilised its services. It also saw a significant increase of return service users.

The support service also provided 51 nights of emergency accommodation through a partnership between Airbnb, Safe Ireland, and Women’s Aid.

Elizabeth Power, Coordinator of DVR Galway, said: “Our 2021 annual report highlights the stark reality of the level of domestic violence in Galway. Under the shadow of Covid-19, DVR recorded the highest number of clients in our 24-year history and delivered the highest number of support services.

“Our staff noted increases in the level of worrying and harrowing experiences of control and abuse. The trauma of these experiences will live with our service users long after Covid-19 fades into memory.

“While Covid-19 restrictions are behind us, domestic violence continues to be present in hundreds of homes throughout Galway.

“As we move through 2022, we will continue to provide our much-needed services to women and men throughout Galway, with an extensive counselling support and advocacy service and a number of new initiatives including a partnership with the HSE which will be launched in the coming months.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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