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Environmental hurdles scupper work on upgrading N59 road

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As environmental hurdles scupper work on upgrading the Oughterard to Clifden road, there is no such hold-up on another section of the N59 in rural west Mayo .

A major upgrading scheme is curently underway on the N59 between Westport and Mulranny with the present phase due to be finished in November.  The plan includes 600 metres of offline (effectively a new roadway) as well as the general upgrading work.

The N59 road enters into County Mayo in Leenane and follows on into Westport and north to Bangor Erris.  From there it angles eastwards to Ballina and into Co Sligo.

Environmental hurdles have scuppered attempts to upgrade the N59 from Oughterard to Clifden.

But work is powering ahead in Mayo. An Bord Pleanála gave development permission for an upgrade of the 23-kilometre section from Westport to Mulranny; the phase being developed at the moment is between Kilmeena and Kilbride.

€4.5m. was allocated for this year’s work – that is about the same sum of money which had to be returned to the State coffers from Connemara last year because the Co Council could not get a go-ahead for their plans from the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

It now looks likely that some of the €2m allocated for the general plans from Oughterard to Clifden for 2016 may again be going back to Dublin this year.

Ironically, the only money that may be spent is for the purchase of land between Maam Cross and Oughterard while there is no action on the actual road.  This is happening because the Bord Pleanála process involved the acquisition of lands beside the N59; the Council now must buy the land irrespective of what happens in relation to the 15-kilometre stretch of roadway from Oughterard to Maam Cross.

Sources in Mayo County Council say they will be continuing the work between Westport and Mulranny in phases.  While acknowledging that there has been a serious cutback in spending by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (formerly the National Roads Authority), a spokesman in Mayo said that it was their intention to continue the work until it is complete.

Mayo County Council sources say that they have regular contact with the National Parks and Wildlife Service while road plans such as the one between Westport and Mulranny are being prepared.

The Council also carries out a preliminary study before they embark on looking for tenders from contractors. This is done in case there is any substantial change in environmental issues locally since the time of Development Permission being given.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service are made aware of that process.  When contractors are appointed to do the work, they are obliged to maintain contact with the Parks and Wildlife Service.

The sources in Mayo County Council say they were not hindered – for the most part – by Special Areas of Conversation or other designations on the Westport to Mulranny section of the N.59.  However, the plans were slightly impinging on designated areas at one point but it was not seen as significant.

Connemara has a very large area – possibly up to 80% west of Oughterard – of lands designated as SACs, NHA’s and SPA.  This has now constrained a lot of developments including the N59 which has been described as the “worst road of its kind in Ireland” by senior national politicians.

Connacht Tribune

School walkway remembers much-loved member of staff

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Minister Frank Feighan with Lucy Daly's family at the opening of Lucy’s Way (from left) Lucy's father Jackie O'Shea, her sons Niall and Aaron Daly, and her mum Florrie O’Shea.

A Galway school unveiled its new sensory walkway as a lasting memorial to its much-loved secretary who passed away earlier this year.

Lucy’s Way at Esker National School is named after Lucy Daly, and fittingly her sons Niall and Aaron were on hand to cut the ribbon with Junior Minister for Health, Frank Feighan, recently.

The Minister was at the Athenry school to also officially open the school’s new Outdoor Classroom and Sensory Gardens, as well as the Walkway – just as summer begins to bloom.

Also in attendance also were the Bishop of Galway and Michael Duignan; Monsignor Cathal Geraghty; Karen Cotter from Active School Flag, Andrew McBride from Healthy Ireland and Karen Colcannon representing Galway Sports Partnership.

The work was completed in a voluntary capacity by parents of the school, the local Rural Social Scheme and staff members with the support of school management.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

No room in the city – so college students told to look at Tuam or Athenry

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NUIG...accommodation advice.

Students coming to NUIG this September have been advised by the college to check out their accommodation options… as far away as Tuam, Oughterard, An Spidéal or Athenry.

Unfortunately, that is likely to prove as fruitless as searching for a flat in the city, because those involved in the rental sector say that there is very little available around the county either.

A trawl through accommodation websites reveals an extremely limited supply of rental properties across the county – particularly when it comes to those suitable for students.

And even when there is availability, you won’t find a one-bed property for much for less than €1,000 as the dearth of rental accommodation has resulted in owners demanding close to city prices.

Tuam auctioneer Michael Mannion said that there are very few properties to be had, and the vast majority of those that come to the market will not suit students.

“We don’t have them at the moment, and it is futile for NUIG suggesting they look at the likes of Tuam – or any other similar-sized town for that matter in the county,” he said.

“There is no problem about accepting students, but the houses and apartments are not there to accommodate them. There is no building going on and while this is the case, there are very few properties up for rent,” Mr Mannion added.

Student accommodation in Galway City averages out at around €1,500 per month which is putting a major financial strain on families.

NUIG recently advised students to consider seeking accommodation in Tuam (22 miles from the college), Oughterard (18 miles), An Spidéal (12 miles), Moycullen (8 miles) or Athenry (15 miles).

The NUIG Students Union described the fact that NUIG is recommending that other areas outside the city as a reflection of the current situation.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Government bows to pressure on rural work schemes

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Minister Heather Humphreys.

SWEEPING reforms to a number of local employment schemes – announced this week by the Government – have allayed fears among West of Ireland communities over the future of thousands of rural jobs.

A six-year time limit for participants in the Rural Social Scheme (RSS) has now been axed by the Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys – if that clause had remained, 45 positions in Galway would be cut from February 1 next.

The package of reforms has been warmly welcomed by West of Ireland TDs and public representatives including Minister of State, Anne Rabbitte and East Galway Fine Gael TD, Ciaran Cannon.

“We’ve all worked very had to bring these changes about, and at a time when it’s nearly impossible to get workers, these are common-sense measures which will mean an awful lot to villages, towns and communities across the West of Ireland,” said Anne Rabbitte.

According to Deputy Ciaran Cannon, the abolition of the six-year participation rule in the Rural Social Scheme was one of the central points raised at a huge public meeting in Athenry at the end of May.

“The Minister hopes to effect the abolition of the rule within a very short timeframe thus clearing the way for participants to remain working on the Rural Social Scheme up to retirement age,” said Deputy Cannon.

The reforms – confirmed by both Minister Humphreys and Taoiseach Micheál Martin on Tuesday – will apply to the RSS; Tús [a one-year community work placement scheme]; and Community Employment (CE) schemes.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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