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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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Galway TD demands no more “patronising comments” from Health Minister over National Maternity Hospital

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – A Galway TD has asked the Health Minister to take action on the National Maternity Hospital rather than making patronising comments or offering promises.

Deputy Catherine Connolly was contributing to a Dáil debate on the ownership and operation of the hospital, which has been a long-running matter of controversy.

Particpating in the discussion, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly acknowledged the issues raised, particularly given the history of women’s health in this country.

However, he said he would only bring a governance recommendation to Goverment if he had clear, unambiguous and watertight confirmation of the full operational independence of the hospital.

Deputy Connolly wasn’t won over by this assurance – and said it falls short of what is needed.

To hear more, tune into Galway Bay fm news.

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County Council drawing up plans to enhance Connemara bridges

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – Galway County Council is in the process of drawing up a design plan for remedial and safety work on bridges which serve the districts of Lettermore and Lettermullen in Connemara.

At a meeting of the municipal district, Connemara County Councillors were told that the bridges are basically sound and that the remedial works are being scheduled for later this year.

They are the longest bridges in Connemara. DroicheadAnachMheáin, DroicheadCharraiganLogáin and DroichedChuigéil.

They link CeantarnanOileán – that is LeitirMóir and LeitirMealláin – to the mainland.

For some time past surface cracks and fissures in the structures have caused concern locally and CoisteBóithreChonamara have highlighted the issue.

Senior Council Engineer, Damian Mitchell, told Connemara Councillors that a report from Sandberg Consulting Engineers in London had shown that the bridges were basically sound.

However, certain elements of concern emerged about some locations and remedial works are to be carried out.

It was not clear from the meeting if traffic lights might be part of the plan or if weight limits might be considered.

Councillors are to meet members of the roads committee on the 5th of July but the Connemara Councillors Chairman, Séamus Walsh said the design plan would ultimately be a matter for the engineers and for the elected Councillors.

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Boil water notice lifted for Salthill estate hit by E-Coil

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – A boil water notice issued for the Ard na Mara estate in Salthill following the detection of E-Coli has now been lifted with immediate effect.

The notice was issued last week after the deadly bacteria was detected in the water supply in the area of Ard na Mara, as well as a section of Dalysfort Road.

Irish Water says as a result of continuous flushing of the water main network and verification monitoring of the water supply, the notice has now been lifted.

Customers are being advised that drinking water can now be consumed as normal.

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