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Cyclists voice opposition to N6 greenway

Denise McNamara

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Cycling campaigners have urged the Transport Minister to scrap funding for the greenway altogether rather than locating it along the old N6, accusing both farmers and the NRA of sabotaging the economic recovery of East Galway.

The Galway Cycling Campaign said both sides are at fault in the current row over the greenway route through the county.

The approach by the National Roads Authority (NRA) is poorly managed and has ignored standard practice of not splitting farms to create such routes. The threat to impose Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) was unnecessarily divisive.

However the lobby group is also critical of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), whose proposal to locate a section of the cycling and walking route along the old Galway to Dublin road was described as equally flawed.

“It would make the country a laughing stock to put the Galway greenway beside a busy road. A reality check is needed,” remarked spokesperson Shane Foran.

“The greenway represents strategic international infrastructure and, if implemented correctly, could open up a huge new tourism product for East Galway.  Elsewhere in Europe, cycling tourism is big business.”

Members of the campaign group met briefly with Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe on Monday and called on him to reject IFA proposals to locate it beside the old N6.

“The cycling campaign endorses the view that it is better to redirect any funds elsewhere in the country than to spend them on a second class version of a cycling route in Galway,” said Shane.

They point to the massive network of country lanes and boreens that exist across the county which would create a far superior greenway.

“Look at the intense cycling use on the Aran Islands where you have hundreds of cyclists using country lanes in the presence of traffic. Why can we not find a way to do this elsewhere in the county?” he asked.

Campaigners point out that over 5 million Germans take a cycling holiday every year. Domestically, the German cycling tourism market has sales of more than €9 billion annually.

In 2010 just over one million Dutch people went on a cycling holiday with the potential market estimated at €1.7 million.  For the Italian tourism market, adventure holidays, including cycling generated €510,000 million of travel retail sales in 2008.

In 2008, around 970,000 UK holiday makers took part in cycling while on holiday.

Between the towns of Gort, Loughrea and Ballinasloe there are currently over 5000 people on the live register.  Retail in Ballinasloe has been decimated.

“The cycling route represents an enormous opportunity for communities along its path – including the farming community.  By pushing a solution that would destroy the essential nature of the greenway, the IFA are open to the accusation that they are sabotaging economic recovery for local communities and towns in East Galway.”

CITY TRIBUNE

Gardaí bid to identify body recovered near Mutton Island

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Gardai have launched an investigation following the discovery of a body in Galway Bay yesterday afternoon.

A member of the public raised the alarm after spotting the body in the water while walking on the causeway to Mutton Island.

Galway Fire Service, Gardai and the RNLI attended the scene and recovered the body at around 4pm, before it was taken to University Hospital Galway for a post mortem.

It is understood that the body may have been in the water for some time.

Gardaí are currently examining a list of missing people in the city.

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Connacht Tribune

Gardaí investigate fatal Carraroe crash

Enda Cunningham

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A man in his 30s has died following a road crash in Carraroe in the early hours of this morning.

At 3.50am, Gardaí and emergency services attended at a single car collision on a minor road.

The driver of the car, a man in his 30s, was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later. A passenger in the car, a male in his 30s, was taken by ambulance to Galway University Hospital. His injuries are not thought to be life threatening.

The road is currently closed and local diversions are in place. Garda forensic collision investigators will examine the crash site this morning.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Salthill Garda Station (091) 514 720 the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111 or any Garda Station.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Land Development Agency rules out Merlin ‘land grab’

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Campaigners have warned the Land Development Agency (LDA) to keep its hands off Merlin Woods.

Local community group Friends of Merlin Woods said that the amenity on the east side of the city is not suitable for residential development.

It has sought clarification on whether the LDA has earmarked part of the recreational and amenity lands for housing, after it appeared on its online database of publicly-owned lands.

In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, the LDA said its database compiles a list of all State lands, not just land for development.

In relation to Merlin Woods, the LDA said: “Those lands aren’t included in the LDA developments in Galway. The lands database is a map-based tool which compiles all State lands and has no reflection on development potential.”

It came after Caroline Stanley of Friends of Merlin Woods raised concern that land within Merlin Woods had been earmarked for development.

“I’d be concerned that it’s marked as residential when it’s in RA (Recreational and Amenity) land. Some is marked ‘open space’ but some is marked as ‘new proposed residential’ on its [LDA’s] database. It makes us wonder why. We’d like clarity and to clear it up.

“The message we’d like to get out there is we need clarification, whether it’s a mistake on the Land Development Agency’s part, or whether it is an area that they consider as a residential area, which the community would be opposed to. We need clarity. It could be something that is in line for development later on, we don’t know, and we need clarity.”

Councillor Owen Hanley explained that the fears around Merlin Woods stem from legislation currently making its way through the Oireachtas that would strip councillors of powers to veto the transfer of land to the LDA for housing projects.

The Bill would also allow Government to direct what public lands – including those owned by local authorities – can be transferred to the LDA for development of social and affordable housing.
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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