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FOI shows Galway 2020 ‘confident’ issue could be resolved



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.



Galway City Council Chief asked to intervene after Kirwan junction ‘near misses’



From the Galway City Tribune – Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, has been urged to intervene and instigate a review of the controversial changeover of Kirwan roundabout to a traffic light junction.

A relative of the Collins’ family, who operate a B&B on Headford Road, has pleaded with Mr McGrath to act to make it safe to enter and exit this house.

Joseph Murphy, from County Galway but living in England, a relative of the owners of the B&B located on the N84 side of the Headford Road, has warned of the potential for a serious collision at that junction.  He wrote to Mr McGrath, and copied all city councillors including Mayor of Galway, Clodagh Higgins (FG), seeking a review of the junction and in particular access to the B&B. Mr Murphy said he has been driving for forty years but this junction was “one of the most difficult and complicated traffic light junctions I have ever experienced”.

The CCTV shows a van stopping in the junction to give way to pedestrians before entering the B&B.

He said he wrote the letter because he nearly had a serious accident, due to no fault of his, when leaving the residence.

An amber traffic lights system is in place at the house, since the junction changeover last year, which is supposed to help motorists exit onto the Headford Road from the B&B.

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

He said the lights are complicated and it was unreasonable and unfair on his family and any guests staying at their B&B who may be endangered trying to enter or exit the driveway.

Videos of ‘near misses’ recorded on CCTV footage, and supplied to Councillor Mike Crowe (FF), have been seen by the Galway City Tribune.

They give a flavour of how dangerous it is to exit the residence on an amber light; and indicate an apparent lack of understanding of the system on the part of other motorists.

Cllr Crowe and other elected members raised this safety issue at a Council meeting last week during a discussion on the City Development Plan. It was decided to rezone some land adjacent to Sandyvale Lawn, which would allow for a new entrance to the house to be constructed, although there is no timeframe.

Mr Murphy, in his email to officials and councillors said it was an “extremely busy junction”.

“I do not believe that enough planning or consideration was taken when the traffic lights were installed, especially those that were installed directly in front of my sister’s house.

“My relatives in Galway should not have to worry every time they leave their house nor should anyone coming from the Menlo direction have to worry about getting blocked in by other vehicles when entering my sister’s house,” he said.

Mr Murphy added: “I would urge the Galway City Council to carry out an immediate review to make this busy junction safe before somebody gets hurt in a serious accident.”

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Plan for former pub in Galway to house Ukrainian refugees



From the Galway City Tribune – The former Lantern Bar in Ballybane has been proposed to accommodate Ukrainians seeking refuge in Galway.

The Galway City Tribune has learned that works are underway on the building to advance the plans.

The Council confirmed that they had been briefed on the proposal but refused to be drawn on the details.

“Galway City Council is aware of a proposal to use the Lantern Bar at Ballybane Shopping Centre for refugees,” said a spokesperson.

“The coordination of the development of accommodation facilities such as this is the responsibility of the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.”

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

The local authority spokesperson said they did not have information on the number of people who would be accommodated, nor did they know when the facility might be open.

The Lantern Bar has not operated as a pub for some time, although its licence was renewed on appeal at Galway Circuit Court in February 2020 when the court was told that it was intended to sell the premises.

The bar, which had been the location of a series of public order incidents in 2019, had previously had its licence revoked following several objections from residents.

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City centre residents’ fears over new late-night opening hours



From the Galway City Tribune – Residents in one of the city centre’s oldest residential areas fear their lives will be turned upside-down by proposed later opening hours for pubs and nightclubs.

Chairperson of the Bowling Green Residents’ Association, Jackie Uí Chionna, told a public meeting of the City’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC) that as city centre residents, anti-social behaviour was part of their daily lives.

However, they expected the situation to worsen if Government proceeded with proposals to extend nightclub opening hours to 6.30am.

“Our concern at our recent AGM was the longer pub opening hours – it will result in an increase in [anti-social behaviour],” said Ms Uí Chionna.

She said it was their belief that this policy went against the right of city centre residents to “exist and live as a community” in the middle of town.

“We oppose increasing opening hours. We won’t have any sleep – we have minimal as it is. And we won’t feel safe to walk on the streets.

“It is regrettable that there has been so little consultation with gardaí and residents,” said Ms Uí Chionna.

Chief Superintendent Gerard Roche said Gardaí were waiting to see what happened with the legislation for later opening hours.

“On one hand, not having 5,000 or 10,000 people coming out at the one time will be a benefit but the question is if they won’t [come out at one time]. And will businesses buy into it?” questioned the Chief Supt.

Meanwhile, another Bowling Green resident and former city councillor, Nuala Nolan, raised concerns about the new model of policing and said rostering, which had gardaí working three days on and four days off was making it difficult to follow up on matters with community gardaí.

“You can’t get that person when they’re off for another four days – the continuity is gone,” said Ms Nolan.

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