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CITY TRIBUNE

FOI shows Galway 2020 ‘confident’ issue could be resolved

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Two weeks before it lost its creative director, Galway 2020 told officials working for Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan it was “confident the issue could be concluded satisfactorily”.

The “possible departure” of Galway 2020’s Creative Director, Chris Baldwin was first flagged by Declan McGonagle, the minister’s representative on the board of Galway 2020, in a briefing to Feargal Ó Coigligh, an official in the minister’s department, on May 16.

“Dialogue on this is ongoing at this time but Galway 2020 was confident the issue could be concluded satisfactorily,” according to minutes of the meeting, released to the Galway City Tribune under Freedom of Information.

Two weeks later, on May 30, Galway 2020 officially confirmed Mr Baldwin’s departure “by mutual agreement”.

Meanwhile, five days after that, the records show, Galway 2020 had approached Martin Green, former director of Hull UK City of Culture 2017 to help them out.

An email sent at 9.25pm on the night before the story of Mr Baldwin’s departure broke, Mr McGonagle told Mr Ó Coigligh of the impending departure, “ahead of any press pick-up”.

“Apologies for cutting into your evening. Just wanted to update on the Board meeting and decisions today. The ‘deal’ with Creative Director was due to be signed off by the end of business today, having been agreed earlier by the Board. Sill awaiting sign off on terms as previously indicated to you.

“The PR on this is ready to go with an agreed statement i.e. leaving ‘by mutual agreement’ with some reconfiguration of structure to focus on the next phase”.

He said he was telling him this because Chief Executive of Galway City Council Brendan McGrath had a meeting with City Councillors earlier that afternoon, which was attended by journalists, and “he felt that they might have had some information on this and there is a possibility that something on this situation could appear shortly, maybe even tomorrow”.

He said that Baldwin’s departure statement would include a sentence outlining Galway 2020 Board’s “intention is to have an artistic/creative leadership role in place in the near future with no loss of momentum, following enlargement of the team”.

Mr McGonagle said: “This is verbally agreed, after legal advice, and I have just got a message that the agreement has now been signed by Chris (Baldwin).”

Parts of this and other emails pertaining to the severance ‘deal’ between Galway 2020 and Mr Baldwin were redacted in the FOIs because it contained personal information.

Five days after it officially announced Mr Baldwin’s departure, on June 5, Minister Madigan’s officials were informed that Galway 2020 had “approached Martin Green, former Director of Hull (Uk City of Culture 2017).”

Mr McGonagle, in an email to Mr Ó Coigligh, said: “Martin Green is widely acknowledged to have developed and directed a very successful cultural programme for Hull and has serious credibility in the field, dating also from the successful cultural programme he led during and after the 2012 London Olympics. He will visit Galway on June 11 to finalise a focused brief for his work. He will be available at times during June but will spend the month of July in Galway.

“This is a particularly useful period in the city because of the (arts) Festival and the attendance of arts/cultural practitioners and media, with whom he will interact as well setting up and continuing to develop relations with local/regional partners. This is, in the circumstances, a very positive step and will, as intended, bridge 2020 to the full strategic appointment.”

Mr McGonagle added that “Minister (Madigan) seemed content that the momentum would not be disrupted and that we needed to ‘get on’. That is what this immediate process will facilitate

Mr Green – who has not yet officially been confirmed by Galway 2020 as having been hired as a consultant – visited Galway on June 11, according to the emails.

 

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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