Senior management at University Hospital Galway have indicated for the first time they are examining the feasibility of a new replacement hospital on the grounds of Merlin Park.
Oireachtas members hailed the acknowledgement by the Chief Clinical Director for the Saolta Hospital Group Dr Pat Nash that a new hospital was required as a victory for common sense.
Dr Nash was briefing TDs and Senators from Galway and Roscommon last Friday on the situation at UHG. A spokesperson for the hospital group said there were no immediate plans for an application for a new hospital to be submitted to the Department of Health.
“At the briefing, the Chief Clinical Director for the Group Dr Pat Nash acknowledged – in the context of a discussion around the constraints of the UHG site – that plans for developments into the future, including a new hospital, would have to consider the Merlin Park site,” she stated.
However newly-elected TDs Catherine Connolly and Hildegarde Naughten have described even that tacit statement as significant.
Deputy Connolly said the “frank acknowledgement that a new hospital is absolutely necessary” was refreshing.
“It is now time for Galway West TDs to work together and ensure that a new hospital becomes a reality,” she insisted.
“Rather than commit to a new hospital in a planned and timely manner however senior management at the hospital along with each new government in power refused to even contemplate such a development.
“Instead new wings and new buildings were constructed on an already congested site and in an ad hoc manner and under pressure in response to each crisis arising.
“Finally it seems sense has prevailed and both the Clinical Director and the Manager of University Hospital Galway both openly acknowledged that planning should immediately begin for a new hospital. Moreover, both acknowledged that all planned construction works are simply fire-fighting and crisis-driven and they confirmed that on the risk register compiled as part of the management’s statutory duty, the biggest risk is lack of capacity.”
For more on the crisis at UHG, see this week’s Galway City Tribune
Gardaí bid to identify body recovered near Mutton Island
Gardai have launched an investigation following the discovery of a body in Galway Bay yesterday afternoon.
A member of the public raised the alarm after spotting the body in the water while walking on the causeway to Mutton Island.
Galway Fire Service, Gardai and the RNLI attended the scene and recovered the body at around 4pm, before it was taken to University Hospital Galway for a post mortem.
It is understood that the body may have been in the water for some time.
Gardaí are currently examining a list of missing people in the city.
Gardaí investigate fatal Carraroe crash
A man in his 30s has died following a road crash in Carraroe in the early hours of this morning.
At 3.50am, Gardaí and emergency services attended at a single car collision on a minor road.
The driver of the car, a man in his 30s, was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later. A passenger in the car, a male in his 30s, was taken by ambulance to Galway University Hospital. His injuries are not thought to be life threatening.
The road is currently closed and local diversions are in place. Garda forensic collision investigators will examine the crash site this morning.
Land Development Agency rules out Merlin ‘land grab’
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Campaigners have warned the Land Development Agency (LDA) to keep its hands off Merlin Woods.
Local community group Friends of Merlin Woods said that the amenity on the east side of the city is not suitable for residential development.
It has sought clarification on whether the LDA has earmarked part of the recreational and amenity lands for housing, after it appeared on its online database of publicly-owned lands.
In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, the LDA said its database compiles a list of all State lands, not just land for development.
In relation to Merlin Woods, the LDA said: “Those lands aren’t included in the LDA developments in Galway. The lands database is a map-based tool which compiles all State lands and has no reflection on development potential.”
It came after Caroline Stanley of Friends of Merlin Woods raised concern that land within Merlin Woods had been earmarked for development.
“I’d be concerned that it’s marked as residential when it’s in RA (Recreational and Amenity) land. Some is marked ‘open space’ but some is marked as ‘new proposed residential’ on its [LDA’s] database. It makes us wonder why. We’d like clarity and to clear it up.
“The message we’d like to get out there is we need clarification, whether it’s a mistake on the Land Development Agency’s part, or whether it is an area that they consider as a residential area, which the community would be opposed to. We need clarity. It could be something that is in line for development later on, we don’t know, and we need clarity.”
Councillor Owen Hanley explained that the fears around Merlin Woods stem from legislation currently making its way through the Oireachtas that would strip councillors of powers to veto the transfer of land to the LDA for housing projects.
The Bill would also allow Government to direct what public lands – including those owned by local authorities – can be transferred to the LDA for development of social and affordable housing.
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.