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CITY TRIBUNE

Eleanor exposes Council’s amateurish storm ‘prep’

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Cllr Maireád Farrell: the wannabe weather girl.

Bradley Bytes – A sort of political column by Dara Bradley

Storm Eleanor was like a game of two halves – in which Galway City Council failed to turn up for the first. The Council staff excelled late on Tuesday night for the clean-up, and early on Wednesday morning, in preparation for the second surge, when high tides were expected again.

But the local authority failed miserably to prepare the public for the initial flash flooding that wreaked so much damage in the city centre, The West, Claddagh and Salthill.

By tea-time on Tuesday, during the evening rush hour traffic, water gushed out of Galway Docks and flooded the entire area stretching from Dock Street all through Quay Street, Merchants Road, Flood Street, Spanish Parade, Fr Griffin Road, Fairhill Road Lower, Dominick Street, Wolfe Tone Bridge, Claddagh Quay, Grattan Road, and elsewhere.

It happened so suddenly, and a combination of unfortunate events – high tide, wind direction, heavy rain, etcetera – all came at once, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Council couldn’t have done anything in advance.

Nonsense.

Yes, it was very sudden and the conditions created the perfect storm, but Eleanor exposed the Council as a bunch of amateurs, who underestimated Mother Nature.

And not for the first time – the Council has form on the ‘failing to prepare for storms’ front. It’s not that they were ill-prepared, it’s that they didn’t prepare at all. No matter how “unprecedented” the flooding was, it still doesn’t excuse the Council’s reactive rather than proactive attitude.

True, an ‘orange’ weather warning was issued for Galway on the morning of the storm but the City Council in its statement said, “. . . no serious flooding is expected . . .” before urging the public to be vigilant. NO SERIOUS FLOODING IS EXPECTED. Are you having a laugh?

There were no Council staff on the ground, monitoring the situation, and by the time they reacted, it was too late: Galway was submerged.
They didn’t get sandbags out until after the flood, and that was only after taking a pasting on social media. Impassable roads remained open to traffic. Gullies uncleaned for years made matters worse.

The confusion caused by the Council’s initial statement also compounded the situation. It said: “Met Éireann have issued an Oranmore weather warning for this evening”.

This was soon corrected to an “Orange” weather warning rather than Oranmore but it gave the impression the weather warning was localised to Oranmore. Then there were national weather warnings mentioning South Galway, which for locals means Gort and its hinterland not the city. More confusion.

Again, the Council’s complete unpreparedness meant businesses were taken unawares. Meanwhile, the Army – which must be requested to intervene – was twiddling its thumbs awaiting a call for help. By the time they got it, the damage was done. You couldn’t make it up. And instead of taking responsibility, and apologising, all we get is spoofery.

Weather warning – a day late!

Not only were businesses kept in the dark over the impending floods, so too were city councillors. It wasn’t until Peter Keane (FF) went onto RTÉ Radio One Drivetime, shortly before 7pm Tuesday, to criticise the executive’s response, did fellow Councillors start to get updates from the Council, which they relayed to the public via social media.

They issued a tweet warning motorists to stay away from the Docks long after the road should have been closed by Gardaí or the Council.

One Galway City councillor, Pádraig Conneely (FG), does not have email, and doesn’t use social media, and so Tuesday’s weather warning was posted to him by the Council. The letter arrived on Wednesday at 3pm – 22 hours after the worst flooding had occurred.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Bikers do their bit to mark anniversary of blood service

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The Blood Bike team and supporters with the charity’ s newest motorbike, Cara, during the fundraising day at the Galway Plaza. Pictured are (from left) John Moylan, Bridie Lyons (Fundraising Manager), Sean Griffin, Fergus Turner, James Treacy, Pat McDonagh, Dave O'Leary (Chairperson), Ronan Kane (Fleet Manager), and Sergio Massidda.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Blood Bike West, and the big birthday was marked in style with a sun-drenched afternoon at Galway Plaza’s Bike Fest West.

Galway stuntman Mattie Griffin was the headline attraction; there was face painting, games, plenty of ice-cream – and hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts and families.

The birthday celebrations kicked off with a 160-strong motorcycle spin around the Galway countryside, raising well-needed funds for the volunteering efforts of Blood Bike West.

As a 100% volunteer-run and funded organisation, donations are vitally important for Blood Bike West to continue operating their medical transport in the West of Ireland.

Since its inception in 2012, demand for their volunteers’ services continues to grow:  collecting and delivering all manner of urgent medical items regionally and nationally, such as bloods, breast milk, medicines, scans, and equipment.

In 2021 alone, Blood Bike West delivered 983 urgent medical deliveries throughout the country.

As part of Galway City Councils Community, Blood Bike West undertook to operate a 24/7 service, including 165 medication deliveries from pharmacies to the self-isolating and vulnerable during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Since Blood Bike West’s inception in 2012, this increase sees the ongoing need to replace and renew their fleet of motorcycles.

Their motorbikes, Madison, Heather, Margaret, and newly inaugurated bike Cara, are regularly seen on Galway roads, delivering consignments to and from local and regional hospitals.

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Park fun to mark Africa Day

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Pam Mncube-Zoki of Africa United Galway, speaking at the National Integration Conference at NUI Galway last week. The group are co-organisers of Africa Day which takes place in Salthill Park on May 28. Photo:xposure

On Saturday next (May 28) in Salthill Park, Galway’s African community invites people to join them in a celebration of culture as part of the national Africa Day celebrations.

Africa United Galway, emerging from lockdown and having hosted online festivals for the past two years, will be delivering a family fun day event.

Africa Day 2022 will reinforce a collaboration between Africa United Galway and Galway Africa Diaspora, Shining Light Galway and GoCom Radio (broadcasting live), who have worked to create a festival that will showcase Galway as a city of culture.

Among the performances on the day will be Afrobeat dancer Lapree Lala of Southside Moves, who will show how to dance in African style; Elikya Band will be bringing indigenous African Congolese music; The Youth Performances will be displaying their talent in rap, singing, speaking, and dancing and for the young at heart.

Galway Afrobeat performer Dave Kody will get the crowd moving and there will be poetry through spoken word and cultural displays. There will be a photo booth and face painting and everyone will get to have a taste of African cuisines.

In the spirit of inclusion and integration, The St Nicholas Collegiate Church Parish Choir will be presenting a special African performance as well as a feature presentation by the Hession School of Irish Dance, who will be presenting the famous Riverdance.

Also organised is a football friendly between the African community and An Garda Siochana.

The Mayor, Colette Connolly, will officially be opening the event with a keynote speech and several African Ambassadors are expected to be present on the day to reinforce the culture, beauty and strength of Africa and support for its people.

Africa Day is sponsored by Irish Aid and supported by Galway City Council.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Domestic Violence Response recorded highest number of clients in 24 years under Covid ‘shadow’

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At the launch of the Domestic Violence Response (DVR) Annual Report were Rachel Doyle and Elizabeth Power of DVR, Deputy Catherine Connolly and Anne Reynolds. Photos Sean Lydon

BY TIFFANY GREENWALDT-SIMON

A domestic violence support charity in Galway has recorded its highest number of clients in 24 years – “under the shadow” of Covid-19.

Domestic Violence Response (DVR), which is based in Moycullen, also reported its highest level of counselling support sessions in its 2021 annual report published last week.

The charity saw 136 new clients in 2021, and a total of 266 people utilised its services. It also saw a significant increase of return service users.

The support service also provided 51 nights of emergency accommodation through a partnership between Airbnb, Safe Ireland, and Women’s Aid.

Elizabeth Power, Coordinator of DVR Galway, said: “Our 2021 annual report highlights the stark reality of the level of domestic violence in Galway. Under the shadow of Covid-19, DVR recorded the highest number of clients in our 24-year history and delivered the highest number of support services.

“Our staff noted increases in the level of worrying and harrowing experiences of control and abuse. The trauma of these experiences will live with our service users long after Covid-19 fades into memory.

“While Covid-19 restrictions are behind us, domestic violence continues to be present in hundreds of homes throughout Galway.

“As we move through 2022, we will continue to provide our much-needed services to women and men throughout Galway, with an extensive counselling support and advocacy service and a number of new initiatives including a partnership with the HSE which will be launched in the coming months.”

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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