The slipway at the Docks – which provides access to Galway Bay for recreational boat users – has been closed by the Harbour Company in the wake of the Buncrana tragedy.
Sailing clubs which use the slipway were told by the Harbour Company last Thursday morning, that they no longer have open access – just as the water sport season is set to begin.
The slipway has been locked, and can only be used with the permission of the Harbour Company between 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, or on Saturdays by appointment, to avoid any “risk to life”.
The decision has been branded “ridiculous” by one club member who uses the slipway.
“What happened in Buncrana was a terrible tragedy, but there should have been a more measured response and consultation with the clubs. We all have insurance in place, and people are trained in how to launch and recover boats.
“We’re coming into the prime water sport season. It’s ridiculous, nobody ever thought about the impact this would have on the clubs.
“We don’t want to lose momentum at the start of the season – last year was rotten and you couldn’t go out on the water,” one club member told the Galway City Tribune.
Clubs including Galway Sub Aqua Club, Galway City Sailing Club, Galway Sea Scouts, Bádóirí an Cladaig, Galway Kayak Club and NUIG Sailing Club regularly use the slipway, as well as other pleasure craft users.
Eamon Bradshaw, CEO of the Harbour Company, said the morning after the Buncrana tragedy, he instructed the Harbour Master to close the slipway.
“The issue I have is one of life and death. It’s pretty steep, it’s remote and it goes down into deep water. I just could not take that risk of anybody being in danger. The repercussions would be too severe.
“We are acutely aware that Galway should have a slipway and the facility should be made available and we’re trying to find a solution. If anyone wants to come to me with a solution, I’d be delighted to hear it.
“For the first week after we closed it, we gave the code to specific people – within a matter of hours, everybody had the combination, and other people didn’t bother closing it after them.
“Until such time as we can formulate a solution where the danger is taken out, or regulated, or we can involve the local authority, it will be closed. I’m not prepared to risk human life.
“If anybody wants to use it, they can come to the Harbour Company from 9 to 5 or make arrangements with a member of staff for a Saturday,” said Mr Bradshaw.
Teenager caught with €20,000 worth of cannabis
A teenager was stopped and searched by Gardaí in Eyre Square on Monday evening, and found in possession of an estimated €20,000 worth of cannabis.
Members of the Galway Divisional Drugs Unit stopped the man, aged in his late teens, at around 6pm and searched him under the Misuse of Drugs Act. During the search the man was found in possession of a €20,000 of suspected cannabis herb. The drugs seized will be sent for forensic analysis.
He was arrested and detained at Garda Headquarters in Renmore and was released from custody this morning. A file is now being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Level 5 ‘lockdown’ restrictions from midnight Wednesday
‘Crass stupidity’ to allow Leisureland close
The looming threat of closure for Leisureland after Christmas amounts to “crass stupidity” and requires an urgent commitment for funding from Government, according to a local TD.
Deputy Catherine Connolly told the Galway City Tribune she had raised the issue in the Dáil with the Minister of State for Local Government and he had expressed an openness to meeting with a delegation from City Hall in relation to the City Council-owned facility’s dire financial situation.
“It’s simply not acceptable that a public swimming pool would close when we have the Minister for Finance announcing a budget of €18 billion this week – that’s Monopoly money.
“We have €18 billion to dispense and the challenge is to do that in a way that ensures a basic level of services below which we cannot go, and that requires funding the local authority. The local authority is fundamental in any civilised society, as are the services it provides,” said the Independent Deputy.
Raising the issue in Leinster House, Deputy Connolly said that Leisureland was an excellent public facility that had been open since 1973 and had broke even for the last number of years, but had run into major funding shortfalls as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.
“It is a fantastic swimming pool. I must declare a conflict of interest as I use it every weekend, It helps to keep me semi-sane and semi-fit.
“No public swimming pool makes money and few of them break even. This pool needed money due to Covid-19 and the difficulties experienced by every public swimming pool in the country. The management in the City Council said it was not in a position to give it money and that the swimming pool would have to close,” said Deputy Connolly, adding that the decision had been made and staff were informed.
Due to public pressure and resistance from local councillors, the decision was reversed and €207,000 in funding had been provided by the Council Executive.
“However, it pointed out that the money was coming out of next year’s budget, so it could not continue, and it would not be in a position to fund it.
“I do not expect miracles, but I expect commitment from the Minister and the Government that, regardless of what happens, we are not going to close public swimming pools or public libraries. They are essential services,” said Deputy Connolly.
She said €2.5 million in funding had been made available for “swimming pools with public access” in the private sector as part of the Government’s July Stimulus package, but nothing for publicly-owned facilities.
“It is very ironic if we are going to keep private swimming pools open once they have some limited access to the public, while we close down the public swimming pools,” she added.
Responding, Minister Peter Burke said his Department was keeping spending and cash flow at local authorities under constant review and would continue to work with Galway City Council to address issues.
“My Department is engaging with representatives of the local government sector and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on the financial challenges facing local authorities as a direct consequence of the pandemic, in terms of additional costs incurred as part of the local government response and decline in local authority income streams.
“I will do my very best with regard to the Deputy’s ask. I would be willing to meet a delegation from the City Council in connection with this issue. However, there are going to be significant asks emanating from this crisis. We are doing our very best to make what we have go as far as it can. It presents a major challenge,” said Minister Burke.