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Oral hearing into Galway Hospice’s plans for Merlin Park

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – The plan for the future expansion of Galway Hospice at a new site in the city has been examined in detail today.
The project, which would involve a daycare and residential healthcare unit would have a focus on palliative care services at a site in the Merlin Park area.
The An Bord Pleanala oral hearing opened today with submissions from the applicant, the local authority and the various parties in opposition to the plan.
The discussion has focused on site selection and zoning, biodiversity, and road and pedestrian issues.
An Taisce submits that building a hospice within the grounds of Merlin Park Hospital would represent better planning having considered the availability of alternative suitable sites.
The group also argues the planning authority should have sought clarification on site selection information from the applicant such as future building projects including the replacement of units 5 and 6, and possible alternative sites within the grounds of Merlin Park Hospital.
Mr. Butler stressed that while An Taisce is in full support of enhanced palliative care services in the city and county, it does not agree with the site selected.
Caroline Stanley of The Friends of Merlin Woods questioned the plan for future development at the 6.7 hectare site, when, she argued, only 2.8 hectares is needed.
She urged An Bord Pleanala officials to protect biodiversity in the city and not to set a precedent for destruction.
The hearing was also addressed by Dr. Claire Hillery, a local resident, mother and regular user of the meadows.
She stressed the area is a high value amenity space for people on the lower end of the socio-economic scale and is a vital green area supporting physical and mental health.
In an earlier submission, acting on behalf of the applicant, Pat Roberts of McCarthy Keville and O’Sullivan addressed the impacts on biodiversity and ecology associated with the construction and operation of the proposed building.
The Senior Ecologist stated that having identified the grassland, woodlands and treelines within the site as the key ecological receptors, the project team selected a design that would minimise the adverse effects on these habitats and their associated species.
In doing this, the project footprint was moved to the north to minimise the effects on the Annex1 meadow and avoid the majority of sections with the highest biological diversity.
The building was redesigned as a two-storey with the car park removed from the Annex 1 meadow in its entirety.
The hearing heard the final design of the hospice development would result in the loss of 29 percent of the total area of the Annex 1 habitat on the site.
It was advised that the remainder within the control of the developer will be managed as a meadow following the measures set out in the Biodiversity Management Plan.
It was also argued that the proposed development, by itself or in combination with other plans and projects, in light of best scientific knowledge, will not, in view of the site’s conservation objectives, have significant effects on any European site.
Peter Staunton, a planner with Galway City Council stated that it is acknowledged there will be an impact on the habitat on site.
However, he stated, on balance, it’s considered that the development will have a controlled management regime for the habitat environment, securing the future bio-diversity status.
Opening the hearing submissions, Galway Hospice CEO Mary Nash said the site is ideal as it is adjacent to an acute hospital and provides a quiet space where patients can have peace and tranquillity.
The CEO said palliative care has changed significantly in the last 20 years and is now both focused on end of life and on making sure people have the best quality of life for the longest time possible – referring to the group’s motto ‘Every moment matters’.
She said demand for the service is growing rapidly due to the West’s ageing population and the service expansion to care for not just cancer patients but other areas such as MS, COPD Parkinsons and those with respiratory failure.
The CEO said a site has been sought since 2010 when an options appraisal was carried out which recommended that the site in Renmore had limitations for expansion.
Discussions before An Bord Pleanala inspector Karen Hamilton have been focused on site selection and zoning, biodiversity, and road and pedestrian issues.

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Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Francis Duffy receives his Pallium from Primate of All-Ireland in Tuam Cathedral

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https://mcdn.podbean.com/mf/web/5gjyxa/PALLIUM.mp3

Archbishop of Tuam, Dr Francis Duffy has received his Pallium from Primate of All-Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin.

The Pallium is a woollen liturgical vestment worn only worn by Archbishops, Cardinals and Popes and was given to Archbishop Duffy as part of a Investiture Mass that took place in Tuam Cathedral on Sunday afternoon.

Present at the mass were the bishops of the Connacht province, the priests and religious of Tuam Archdiocese and representatives from the 56 parishes of the Archdiocese.

This is the moment the Pallium was conferred on Archbishop Duffy by Archbishop Martin.

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Damian Browne’s New York to Galway Row nears completion

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Former Rugby player to arrive in Galway on Tuesday at 10.30am

Damian Browne is expected to complete his extraordinary New York to Galway row in the coming days with the Galway man less than 100 nautical miles from his final destination after over 100 days at sea.

Having left the Big Apple on the 14th of June, Browne is estimated to arrive in Galway Docks on Tuesday at 10:30. The arrival is slightly later than originally expected due to the adventurer having to deploy his para anchor for a number of days due to adverse weather conditions.

Browne left the States accompanied by his lifelong friend Fergus Farrell, unfortunately Farrell had to leave the project after a couple of weeks having experienced tightness in his chest. Farrell’s efforts at the initial stage of the journey played a huge part in safely navigating the most difficult section of the crossing.

The journey, which has been entitled Project Empower, is part of a fundraising effort for four charitable organisations: National Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation, Ability West, Madra and The Galway Simon Community.

Those wishing to support the event and their charity partners can do so by visiting: http://www.idonate.ie/projectempower2022

Upon completion the former Connacht and Leinster forward Damian will become one of only a few individuals to have rowed the Atlantic both ways having crossed from San Sebastian to Antigua in 2018.

Speaking from his boat, Damian Browne said: “”When I started out on this project some 3.5 years ago, the final destination was clear from the start; Galway. Home. The great hope with this was to give the next generation of kids in the West & throughout the country a real image and touchable action to emulate and hopefully inspire them to dream big and work hard in whatever avenue of life they decide to explore.”

He continued: “After 112 days of stresses, strains and doubts only an endeavour like attempting to row 3000 miles across the unforgiving North Atlantic can elicit, I’m incredibly excited to close out this beautiful project in my hometown, surrounded by my family, friends and supporters; making my dream a reality.”

Meanwhile Project Empower continues and the journey can be followed at www.projectempower.ie at the Project Empower social media and in Damian Browne’s podcast – Deep Roots.

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Iranian women’s rights activists based in Galway to hold a demonstration this afternoon in Eyre Square at 3pm

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Iranian women’s rights activists based in Galway have called a demonstration this afternoon at 3pm in Eyre Square in solidarity and support of the Women.Life.Freedom Movement which has emerged in Iran following the death of Masha Amini.

The demonstration which is being supported by the University of Sanctuary Initiative in the University of Galway and Galway Feminist Collective will hear from Galway based Iraninan Human Rights Scholar Dr Nilourfar Omidi, a graduate of the Irish Centre for Human Rights and renowned Iranian Human Rights Activist Mansoureh Behkish.

Galway poet Sarah Clancy will also read at the demonstration.

The organisers are calling on the Irish government to stand with people in Iran and collaborate with the international community to take action to hold those responsible for these violations accountable.

One significant action which could realise this is for Ireland to issue a call to the UN to revise its decision in the election of Iran to membership of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which is supposed to promote and secure women’s rights.

The group organising this demonstration welcome all members of the public who want to stand in solidarity with the women of Iran to join them on Sunday at 3pm in Eyre Square Galway.

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