A powerful lobby group has lashed out at the State over delays to flood prevention programmes in South Galway – which they say leave the entire area exposed once again to the threat of further damage this winter.
The South Galway Flood Relief Committee has expressed outrage over the fact that the scheme has been delayed by a further six months – and even a number of local TDs have been lambasted for their lack of action over the situation.
At the same time, the engineer in charge of the same South Galway Flood Relief Scheme has promised that the feasibility study, which is almost complete, will contain design options that best meet environmental challenges and cost-benefit criteria – two factors crucial to securing Government funding.
Galway County Council’s Enda Gallagher explained at this month’s Loughrea Municipal District meeting that the project is over a year behind its original timetable because the design team had ‘hit environmental snags’ and had struggled to devise computer models of the topology and underground channels.
Scientists in Trinity College Dublin were employed to work on the modelling until the end of November when they would produce their report.
Various design options are currently being assessed which take into account the Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and the Annex 1 limestone paving, both of which have to be protected in any scheme.
“They are making progress. I expect to see the results in the next number of weeks and hope to produce the results to yourselves and the public,” he stated.
Fine Gael’s Joe Byrne said there was a perception in the public that the feasibility study was yet another report instead of a definitive design solution, which would then have to be sent for funding approval to the Office of Public Works (OPW).
He said there had been very many minor works schemes completed in the last three years which would help alleviate flooding. But there was uncertainty in the community that this major project would ever go ahead.
“I don’t agree with that, but I think there needs to be a public consultation process as soon as the feasibility [report] is done and not for the OPW to sit on it for months and months.”
Party colleague, Cllr PJ Murphy, asked if ground would be moved in 2020 on the scheme.
“Talk of yet another delay in the progression of the South Galway Flood Relief Programme is a source of great concern and frustration to many local people,” he said this week.
“I am told that a more accurate picture of the timelines involved will become clear after the completion of the final feasibility report in the first quarter of 2020,” Cllr Murphy added.
Mr Gallagher said he was unable to give a clear timetable but all would become clearer after the feasibility study was published which would contain “a robust solution that will tick all the boxes”.
From the start he had stated that the scheme had to be “cost beneficial” and complied with the environmental legislation.
The cost benefit analysis had been completed on a separate scheme at Rinrush, where residents in 13 houses had previously been stranded for 58 days. Workers would get in early next year to clear vegetation from the area and build a 1km road to ensure access over the summer.
Chair of the South Galway Flood Relief Committee David Murray recently pointed out that following heavy rain in August and September when over two times the average rainfall was recorded turloughs across the region are full.
“With the reduction in the turlough buffer capacity, we now have a very high potential for flooding this upcoming winter,” he warned on the committee blog.
He said the committee had been informed that a further delay of up to six months was likely in order to complete the feasibility study.
“Credibility is rapidly diminishing on this project – If we remember – ‘diggers on the ground in 2020’ was the mantra at the start of this scheme and now it’s looking more likely that the only thing delivered in 2020 will be yet another report. This is disastrous for South Galway which will more than likely suffer yet another flooding crisis this winter.”
Former Councillor Bridie Willers complained that with the project already a year behind schedule, it appeared that the consultants could keep extending it.
“No explanation as to why the project is delayed once more. To be honest I am convinced they simply do not have the expertise to do the job they agreed to do because, if they did, a solution would have been forthcoming before now,” she wrote on the blog.
“The frustrating part is we can do absolutely nothing about it only sit and wait for our homes, our farms, our roads to be flooded and our community to be isolated again.”
In other schemes across the region, Mr Gallagher said the Dunkellin Bridge should be open to traffic in the first week of November at the latest – and the end of October if the contractors hit no snags.
An application to fund individual flood barriers on homes previously flooded on Kinvara quay had been submitted to the OPW, which had replied asking for substantial details on each building.
Surveys would have to be carried out on 40 homes and a decision made to protect against a one in 1,000-year flood or a one in 200-year flood.
Cllr Byrne said there were 20 homes not 40 that needed the flood gates and four of those had installed them at their own expense after becoming frustrated at how long it was taking for the OPW to fulfil their promise to homeowners.
Cllr PJ Murphy said he raised the matter at a recent meeting of Loughrea Municipal Council only to be told that there would be no diggers on the ground this winter.
“I very much welcome the completion of all pipe laying and drainage works in the Kiltiernan Flood relief scheme.
“This scheme is now fully functional and all that remains to be completed is some of the ground levelling and reseeding works as well as the restoration of walls and fences,” he said.
Separately, Galway County Council are advancing proposals with the Office of Public Works to resolve the access problems caused in recent years by high flood levels at Rinrush, Gort.
These proposals involve the improvement of access routes only and do not include any flood alleviation measures. The plans for this project are at an advanced stage and it is hoped that these works can begin as soon as early 2020.
Exploring the merits of moving into the west
Broadcaster Mary Kennedy has an abiding image of those early mornings when she’d set out from Dublin at the crack of dawn to begin work on another day’s filming down the country with Nationwide.
“I always liked to go in the morning rather than stay there the night before – so I’d be on the road early. And from the moment I’d hit Newland’s Cross, all I’d see was a line of traffic of people trying to make it from home to their workplace in Dublin,” she says.
These were people whose day began before dawn to get their bleary-eyed kids ready to drop at a childminder along the way, so they could be on time for work – and then race home to hopefully see those same kids before they went to sleep.
But if the pandemic had a positive, it was the realisation that work was something you did, not a place you went to. As a result, many people finally grasped the nettle, moving out of the city and sometimes even taking their work with them.
Which is why Mary – busier than ever since her supposed retirement from RTÉ – is presenting a new television series called Moving West, focusing on those individuals and families who have, as the title, suggests, relocated to the West.
One of the programmes comes from Galway, where Mary met with Stewart Forrest, who relocated with his family from South Africa to Oughterard, and Carol Ho, a Hong Kong native who has also settled in Galway.
The TG4 series also stops off in Sligo, Mayo, Kerry, Clare, Roscommon and Leitrim.
Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Community’s tribute to one of their own – saving final cut of turf after his passing
A local community responded in force to the death of one of their own – a man who had given so much of his life for the good of the parish – by paying one last practical tribute to him last week.
They lifted and footed his turf.
John Geraghty – or Gero as he was known – lived for Gaelic football and he’d filled every role imaginable with the St Brendan’s GAA Club since he came to live in Newbridge in 1983.
He’d cut the turf before he died last Tuesday week, but there it lay, until his old GAA friends organised a bunch of guys – made up of the football team, friends and neighbours – to meet in the bog last Wednesday evening to lift and foot/clamp John’s turf.
“Upwards of 50 fellas from the community showed up,” said St Brendan’s chairman Gerry Kilcommins.
Which was just as well, because, as Gerry acknowledged, John – himself a two-time chairman of the club in the past – had a lot of turf cut!
“It took up an area around three-quarters of the size of a standard football pitch,” he said.
Not that this proved a problem, given the enthusiasm with which they rolled up their sleeves for their old friend.
They started at 7.30pm and had it done at 7.55pm – that’s just 25 minutes from start to finish.
Read the full, heartwarming story – and the St Brendan’s GAA Club appreciation for John Geraghty – in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Liver donor dad would do it all again in a heartbeat
It is nearly two years since Paddy Browne gave his daughter Sadhbh part of his liver to save her life. And just ahead of Father’s Day, he reflects on how he would do it all over again in a heartbeat, without a single moment’s hesitation.
After an initial testing time in the first six weeks when they beat a path to the intensive care unit after the operation in St King’s Hospital in London, Sadhbh has never looked back.
“She’s thrived and thrived and thrived. She skips out to school every day. She loves the normal fun and devilment in the yard. She’s now six and started football with Mountbellew Moylough GAA, she loves baking, she’s a voracious reader – she’ll read the whole time out loud while we drive up to Crumlin [Children’s Hospital].”
But it could have all been so different.
Sadhbh from Mountbellew was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia shortly after she was born. She quickly underwent major surgery to drain bile from her liver. It worked well until she reached three years old when an infection caused severe liver damage and she was placed on the liver transplant list.
She was on a long list of medication to manage the consequences of advanced liver disease. While she lived a full life, she would tire very easily.
Paddy was undergoing the rigorous process to be accepted as a living donor when one of the tests ruled him unsuitable. His brother Michael stepped forward and was deemed a good match.
Then, further tests revealed that Paddy was in fact eligible for the operation and the previous result disregarded as a false positive.
Read the full, uplifting story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie
Organ Donor Cards can be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association on 01 6205306 or Free text the word DONOR to 50050. You can also visit the website www.ika.ie/get-a-donor-card or download a free ‘digital organ donor card’ APP to your phone.