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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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NPHET records 11 new cases of Covid-19 nationwide, while no new deaths reported.

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Galway Bay fm newsroom:

Statement from the National Public Health Emergency Team

There have been no new deaths reported to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) today.

There has been a total of 1,746 COVID-19 related deaths in Ireland.

As of midnight Sunday 12th July, the HPSC has been notified of 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19. There is now a total of 25,638* confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland. 

The HSE is working to identify any contacts the patients may have had to provide them with information and advice to prevent further spread.

Over the past 14 days, the total number of confirmed cases notified to the HPSC is 165. Of which;

  • Males 41% / Females 59%
  • Median age is 31 years old; 74% of these cases were under 45 years of age
  • 20 counties reported new cases; Dublin 47%, Kildare 16% & Wicklow 6%
  • 12% of these cases were travel related

Dr. Ronan Glynn, Acting Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, said; “Our research shows that 38% of the population now believe the worst of the pandemic is ahead of us. This does not have to be the case. Simple measures like hand washing, physical distancing, face coverings in appropriate settings, cough/sneeze etiquette and watching out for symptoms are the crucial elements in suppressing COVID-19.”

Rachel Kenna, Chief Nursing Officer, Department of Health, said; “Almost 1.25 million people in Ireland have downloaded the COVID App. That represents 34% of the adult population. This has already served as a support to contact tracers. If you have not done so to date, please download the app.”

Dr Siobhan Ni Bhriain, Consultant Psychiatrist and Integrated Care Lead, HSE; “As we see more cases and clusters emerge it is important that anyone experiencing symptoms isolates and contacts their GP. The aim is to find all cases of COVID-19 in Ireland and to isolate and contact trace them. Early reporting of symptoms and prompt testing helps us achieve this.”

The COVID-19 Dashboard provides up-to-date information on the key indicators of COVID-19 in the community.

ENDS

*Validation of data at the HPSC has resulted in the denotification of 1 confirmed case. The figure of 25,638 reflects this.

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Suspended sentence for Galway man convicted of sexual assault of child

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Galway Bay fm newsroom:

A Galway man who abused the son of a woman he had met through a dating website has avoided a jail term on condition that he stays away from children for 10 years.

The 45-year-old man, who cannot be identified to protect the identity of the child, met the victim’s mother through the website PlentyOfFish. He began exchanging messages and phone calls on a daily basis with her before he befriended her then 10-year-old son on Facebook.

Paul Hyland reports:
[CLIP]


Garda John Doherty told Fionnuala O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting, that the man travelled to the woman’s house in April 2013 and spent the weekend there before he visited the family again the following month.

It was during this second visit that he sexually assaulted the boy after he ended up sleeping in the woman’s bed with the child.

He initially denied the charge but pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court the day before his trial to sexual assault at the boy’s home in May 2013. He has two previous convictions for theft.

The now 16-year-old did not make a victim impact statement but his mother made one on his behalf, which was read into the record by Ms O’Sullivan. In it she stated that her son has difficulty trusting males which impacts on his ability to play sports.

Judge Melanie Greally had adjourned the case after hearing evidence in February 2019 and placed the man on a 12 month probation bond.

Today she sentenced him to 12 months in prison which she suspended in full on condition that he keep the peace and be of good behaviour for those 12 months.

Judge Greally imposed a second condition on the man that he have no unsupervised contact with children and that he not be in the immediate vicinity of a creche, school, playground or any private or public amenity where children may congregate, for 10 years.

She warned the man that if he were to break either of these two conditions he would be brought back before her and jailed for a year. The judge commented that she had to ‘put things in place to make sure the man is not a risk to society’.

Judge Greally took into account a probation report which outlined that the man has since attended 44 sessions of psychotherapy and is considered to be psychologically vulnerable.

She acknowledged that in terms of sexual offending, the crime itself was in the lower range but said it had serious implications for the victim and his mother.

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4,000 people in Galway close pandemic unemployment payment

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Galway Bay fm newsroom:

4 thousand people around Galway have closed their pandemic unemployment payment in the last week as the country begins the final week of Phase 3 of lifting restrictions.

18,800 people are still claiming the support in Galway, down from 22,800 last week.

Nationally, There’s been the largest drop in the number of people claiming the pandemic unemployment payment since it was established.

67,000 who were claiming the payment across the country last week are now back to work.

More than 345,000 people will be get the pandemic unemployment payment today at a cost of more than 100 million euro to the state.

But that’s significantly down on last week – with 67,300 fewer people seeking the PUP.

That’s the largest decrease since the payment was set up.

Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys said it’s welcome news.

She also hinted that the pandemic payment may be extended beyond its expiry date of August 10th.

Minister Humphreys is also bringing a memo to cabinet this afternoon that will address a hole in the legislation that meant anyone on the payment was not building up PRSI contributions.

This could have impacted their entitlements to maternity, paternity and illness payments as well as their pensions.

Legislation is being drafted to ensure all people on COVID support payments will continue to accrue social insurance contributions.

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