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Flood-hit pub unlikely to open for months

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The Townhouse Bar on Quay Lane is one of a handful of businesses still closed in the wake of the ferocious storms which hit after Christmas.

Its roof blew off with the wind, while water poured through the front door in the floods. During the second storm, they managed to keep the floodwaters at bay only for it to seep up through the toilets and sinks.

Owner Neela McPhail says it will be May at the earliest before the venue will be opened again. All the electrics have to be replaced as do the heating and refrigerating systems, sound system, floors and fire proofing, not to mention the roof.

They are putting in flood measures to prevent a repeat of the devastation.

“I’m petrified to put an estimate on it. We’re waiting for the insurance to sign the paperwork. It will certainly be a six figure sum,” she reflected.

The flooding which occurred was a once-in-40-year event. The real issue for residents and businesses in the area is the drainage, Ms McPhail believes.

“My rates cost €500 a week. In October, November and February, you’d be lucky to turn over €2,000 in the week so there’s no possible way of sustaining that cost. People say ‘but you have a great summer’. But eight weeks doesn’t float 52 on those costs,” she remarked.

“We have got very little to no support from the Council. I asked for sandbags before the second flood – I had 40 myself sourced privately and I was told ‘who’s going to fill sandbags at this time?’.

“I had an absolute, complete and utter fit when they turned around and gave us 35 sandbags between five businesses. You pay your bins, you pay to clean up the street, you pay your rates and your water and they don’t even give you sandbags.”

She recalled how the Council responded to her complaints about a smell from the sewerage by sending out a man armed with a one litre bottle of drain cleaner.

When she kicked up a stink, they eventually sent out six engineers at the beginning of last Summer to flush the entire building with smoke bombs in order to see where the leaks were coming from. None of the pipes below the building are sealed.

“I never had a problem with the smell of urine after that. There is an issue with the drainage that needs sorting under this area. The need to drag the river, clean the drains and install underground pumps at the edge of the river and the docks that pump ferociously towards the water to stop it coming in so far.”

Now that she has time on her hands for the first time in years, Ms McPhail decided to turn a negative into a positive.

There are still families across South Galway and in Connemara and Spiddal who cannot return home due to the floods. She has organised a fundraiser for the Red Cross, which is coordinating a relief effort for people most in need, the vast majority of them suffering financial hardship because of being unable to get flood insurance cover.

“The tears are over. I have to think that there are people a lot worse off than us. I understand the stress caused by the storms and floods in a business sense but I have a home to go to at the end of the day. I couldn’t fathom the stress of being out of your home.”

The event takes place at the Rower’s Club in Woodquay on Saturday, March 1. Music by Rachel Sermanni The Voice Squad, Peadar King, Mo Kenny, Mikey & the Scallywags and My Fellow Sponges. All acts will perform acoustically.

There will be a huge array of prizes up for grabs in a raffle, which have been donated by local businesses. Tickets cost €15. Check out Galway Flood Benefit on Facebook.

CITY TRIBUNE

Council rows back on ‘reduced delays’ projections for Kirwan junction

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists have described it as ‘a disaster’ and a former mayor has said the project gave very poor value for money, but Galway City Council have this week asked the public to be patient with the revamped Kirwan junction, close to the Menlo Park Hotel.

Since the four-arm signalled junction opened early last week, motorists have complained of traffic queues stretching back to the Quincentenary Bridge and Corrib Park.

And now the Council has rowed back on its consultants’ claims that the junction would increase capacity by 15% and reduce waiting times by 25%.

Former mayor and local taxi driver, Cllr Frank Fahy, told the Galway City Tribune that given the negative impact of the junction on traffic, the €5 million spent on the project represented ‘very poor value’ as regards taxpayers’ money.

“I will admit that the junction is now safer for pedestrians in that they can hit a button to give them a safe crossing, but since it opened there have some very serious traffic tailbacks,” said Cllr Fahy.

However, City Council Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the Galway City Tribune that the new junction needed time to ‘bed in’ with a familiarisation process.

“The main objectives of this project were to make far safer for pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate, as well as making it safer for motorists too, without impacting [negatively] on the traffic flow,” said Mr Finn.

He added that since it opened – and over the coming few weeks – data on all aspects of how the junction was functioning would be compiled which could involve changes to light sequencing, lanes and peak traffic flows.

One motorist who contacted this newspaper said that the daily “nightmare” journey from the Barna Road to the Headford Road during the morning peak traffic time had added up to 40 minutes to his journey time.

“The two lanes are regularly gridlocked from the junction, back the N6, over the Quincentenary Bridge and back to Corrib Park.

“In the mornings, it’s now easier to go down Taylor’s Hill and into town, past Eyre Square and up Bohermore to get down to the Headford Road.

Councillors were told by consultants in 2017 and again in 2018 – when they voted to proceed with the changeover to a junction – that average delays would be reduced by 25% and junction capacity would increase by 15%.
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

Man hospitalised following Eyre Square assault

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Gardaí have appealed to the public for information into an assault in Eyre Square last weekend which led to a young man being hospitalised.

The victim of the assault – a man in his early 20s from the city area – suffered a cut to his knee and may have had a substance sprayed towards his eyes.

Following the incident – that occurred close to the Eyre Square taxi rank shortly after midnight on Saturday night last – the victim was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Galway.

It is understood that the victim was released later that morning and has made a full recovery. This week, Gardaí are poring over CCTV footage in an effort to try and identify the perpetrators of the assault.

The assailants are understood to have fled on foot after the incident towards St Patrick’s Avenue on the east side of Eyre Square.

A Garda spokesperson has appealed for anyone who was in the vicinity of the taxi rank on Eyre Square between 12 midnight and 12.30am on the Sunday morning (Saturday night) of July 25 last, and who may have witnessed the incident to contact them.

(Photo: the assailants fled on foot towards St Patrick’s Avenue off Eyre Square)
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

Council turns down controversial phone mast plan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Galway City Council has refused an application by Eircom to erect a 12-metre telecoms mast in a housing estate in Knocknacarra.

The local authority turned down the company’s application for planning permission to install the structure in the heart of Drom Óir over concerns that it would create a visual obstruction in a residential area – and would have a detrimental impact on property prices.

Eircom had also sought retention to keep a concrete foundation for the mast in situ after it was forced to abandon works earlier this year, amid protests from residents in Drom Óir and Leitir Burca. This was also rejected.

City planners issued the company with a warning letter in April to cease works after contractors on site drew the ire of nearby residents, who accused Eircom of seeking to install the mast ‘by stealth’.

A total of 26 letters of objection were submitted to the Council from residents of the two estate.
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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