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CITY TRIBUNE

Downgrade may blow Galway Port plan out of the water

Denise McNamara

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A move by Transport Minister Shane Ross to downgrade Galway Port by signing a ministerial order could signal the death knell for the multimillion euro harbour development – and the entire expansion of the city to the sea.

Galway City Councillors recently voted unanimously on a proposal calling on Minister Ross not to change Galway Port’s status from a national port to a port of regional significance.

Former government minister Éamon Ó Cuív is adamant that unless Galway remains a top tier port, it could join a long list of infrastructural projects that have been scuppered in the west due to planning difficulties.

The 2013 National Ports Policy stated that Galway Port should be downgraded from a national port to a port of regional significance.

It found that “declining throughput levels have led to increasing reliance on non-core port activities as revenue streams”. The company derives over half of its revenue from non-core port activities such as parking.

“Given the scale of the existing commercial freight traffic through the port (1% of national traffic), the fact that more than half of the company’s income comes from non-core port activity, and the extent to which its future plans are based on urban regeneration, marine leisure and tourism, it is proposed to transfer the shareholder function and corporate governance oversight of the Harbour Company from the Department to a more appropriate local or regional structure.”

That policy was to be signed into law in a 2016 Bill, but was bitterly opposed at committee stage by Deputy Ó Cuív in the run up to last year’s general election.

In order for it not to dominate the campaign, a last-minute compromise was reached – Galway Port’s status would not be changed unless a ministerial order was signed.

Minister Ross has so far not signed that order but it is the Department’s clear intention to do so judging by their answers to parliamentary questions, fears Deputy Ó Cuív.

“The only hope to stop this becoming law is to table a motion before the Dáil opposing it. Normally that would be a waste of time but in this case it wouldn’t because of the minority government,” explained the Fianna Fáil TD.

“However, he could wait until the end of July when the Dáil wouldn’t be sitting for 28 days and there would be no opportunity to object. I think it’s very significant that Galway City Council has basically said they don’t want the port under their control.”

He believes any downgrading of the port’s status will have a massive impact on its future development.
For the rest of this story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

CITY TRIBUNE

Glass roof over Latin Quarter among raft of proposals to Galway City Council

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to put a roof over the Latin Quarter – with outdoor heaters to combat Galway’s changeable weather – is among a raft of suggestions that will be considered by the Council as it draws up the next City Development Plan.

The widespread use of outdoor theatre and extended opening hours for retail and cultural attractions are also on the cards as members of the public and lobby groups push for a city that offers the broadest range of tourist attractions.

As part of series of measures put forward to improve the outdoor offering in the city, one submission – which is understood to have been noted by the Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath in his report on plan, which is at ‘pre-draft’ stage – is to put a glass ceiling on the city centre’s main commercial thoroughfares.

Planners are currently considering the proposal as part of more than 500 submissions made to Council in the first public consultation for the document, which will shape development in the city for six years after 2023.

It’s proposed that by covering the length of Quay Street/Latin Quarter in high retractable glass panes ‘mounted on decorative supports’, and installing street heaters, ‘a comfortable outdoor ambiance could be created’.

This is one of almost 50 submissions made in the area of economic development, where the theme of improving the city’s night-time economy and tourism offering feature prominently.

In another submission from Fáilte Ireland, the tourism authority expresses its desire that the next City Development Plan should have a chapter dedicated to tourism, such is its importance to the city’s economic success.

As well as developing Galway’s growing reputation as a ‘foodie destination’, developing the night-time economy is identified as being ‘an important aspect of ensuring a vibrant city centre and means more than just developing a bar and restaurant culture’.
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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CITY TRIBUNE

100 new jobs for Galway City Sports Direct outlet

Denise McNamara

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Sports Direct retail giant is set to create up to 100 new jobs when it takes over the former Debenhams department store in the Corrib Shopping Centre.

And the company’s sister outlet Heatons looks set to make a return to the city – possibly in the same building, although management are remaining tight-lipped.

Sports Direct has taken a lease on the Debenhams premises, which has been vacant since before the pandemic, and it will open in June.

“The 65,000 sq ft store will comprise four floors and will consist of Sports Direct, USC and Brand Max. 100 jobs for the store will be created,” a spokesperson confirmed to the Galway City Tribune.

The spokesperson could not confirm that the Heatons brand – which is also owned by English billionaire Mike Ashley – will also be opening as part of the move. The group is currently advertising for staff to work at a new Heatons store in Galway.
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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CITY TRIBUNE

Forty firefighters tackle major blaze at Galway golf shop

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Up to 40 firefighters from across the city and county fought a major fire at the GolfStyle superstore off the Tuam Road for around six hours on Thursday morning.

Gardaí on routine patrol in the Liosbán Business Park shortly before 3am noticed smoke coming from the roof of the building and immediately alerted the fire service.

The building, which was unoccupied at the time, is understood to have suffered major structural and roof damage in the fire that started in the first floor.

At one point, 11 fire engines from the city, Athenry, Loughrea, Carraroe and Gort fought the blaze, using water tankers and aerial ladders, as well as having a command unit in place.

Firemen equipped with breathing apparatus also had to force their way into the building to tackle the source of the fire, that possibly could have been caused by an electrical problem.

The fire was brought under control at around 7.30am, but the Fire Brigade remained at the scene for a number of hours afterwards in case of any secondary outbreak.
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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