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Galway City loses ‘clean’ city status in litter survey

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Galway has lost its status as a ‘clean’ city in the latest survey of littering in towns and cities across Ireland.

The canal walk beside Galway Cathedral was described as being in a “shocking” and “utterly destroyed” with litter.

But significantly, the survey found that dog fouling is no longer an issue on Salthill Prom.

The city has been described as “moderately littered” in the Irish Business Against Litter’s latest league tables.

As well as losing its status as the cleanest of Ireland four main cities, Galway has dropped from 21st place (of 40 towns and cities) in 2014 to 33rd place this month.

Environmental group An Taisce – which carried out the survey for IBAL – said the city could easily regain ‘clean’ status if given some ‘TLC’

“Galway City could easily regain litter-free status if the many moderately littered sites were given a little extra care and attention e.g. Canal Road Upper, the bottle bank at Galway Shopping Centre and the Millennium Children’s Park (beside Galway Cathedral).

“Some of the heavily littered sites have been treated very poorly e.g. the canal bank, Salthill Park, Mulvoy Park shopping centre and Liosbán Industrial Estate.

“The Canal Walk beside the Cathedral was a shocking bad site. A lovely river walk has been utterly destroyed by the persistent litter in the river, particularly around the reeds.

“As well as very high levels of all manner of casual litter, there were sheets of plastic, supermarket trolleys and fertiliser bags in the water – and swans and ducks had to negotiated their way through this mess. The litter wasn’t confined to the water either as the grassy banks were also littered,” the report reads.

A total of 27 sites were surveyed here – 14 received ‘Grade A’ (clean to European norms and virtual absence of litter); nine received a ‘B’ (moderately littered, scattered small amounts of litter) and two received a ‘C’ (serious litter problem, accumulations of litter and two received a litter blackspot ‘Grade D’. Meanwhile, the survey also found that dog fouling is no longer a problem on the Prom.

“Galway Prom was excellent and managed to get the top litter grade, despite high levels of activity – dog fouling was not an issue and has clearly been addressed.

“The residential area of Caireal Mór (Headford Road) was in very good order and Leisureland was nicely landscaped. St Mary’s College, Shop Street, NUI Galway and University College Hospital were all top ranking sites,” the report reads.

Five locations in Ireland were declared ‘moderately littered’ – Tallaght, the Dublin Airport environs, Galway City, Monaghan, and Midleton in Cork.

What the IBAL report says about different areas of city:

Canal Walk beside Cathedral: Grade D. This was a shocking bad site. A lovely river walk has been utterly destroyed by the persistent litter in the river, particularly around the reeds.

As well as very high levels of all manner of casual litter, there were sheets of plastic, supermarket trolleys and fertiliser bags in the water – and swans and ducks had to negotiate their way through this mess. The litter wasn’t confined to the water either, as the grassy banks were also littered.

Mulvoy Park shopping centre: Grade D. The shrubbery near FBD premises was choked with heavy levels of all manner of food-related litter.

As well as this litter, there were other issues – cardboard, industrial plastic bags and there was a stretch of paving with some thick-set paste or paint.

The Prom: Grade A. Dog fouling has certainly been tackled along this very popular site. A number of years ago it was a major issue in the IBAL Anti-Litter survey – not so this time around, with plenty of signage and facilities for the disposal of same. Despite heavy levels of activity, this was a spotless site throughout.

Salthill Park: Grade C. The situation of this park is lovely, slightly raised and overlooking Galway Bay. It has been used as a ‘drinking spot’ with all the associated litter, particularly beer cans. The view of the ‘band stand’ was marred by a large wheelie bin with litter spilling out. The wooden seating was old and in need of repair.

Liosbán Industrial Estate: Grade C. One of the only seriously littered Grade C industrial estates in this IBAL survey . . . characterised by heavy levels of all sorts of litter, graffiti on most of the roller doors, metal, broken glass and several discarded washing machines.

The Caireál Mór and Maigh Riocaird estates on the Headford Road and Ballinfoile Church scored ‘A’ grades, as did the Western Distributor Road, Leisureland, St Mary’s College, University Hospital Galway, NUI Galway, Galway Cathedral and Shop Street.

Connacht Tribune

Galway’s Golden Girls mark big birthdays!

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Two of Galway’s Golden Girls celebrates milestone birthdays on either side of the county this week – racking up a magnificent 210 years between them.

Oughterard’s Phyl Furness celebrated her 107th birthday this week – and Mary O’Leary marked her mere 103rd birthday in Ardrahan!

Phyl, who is originally from Nottinghamshire in England, moved to Ireland in the 1980s – and has been a wonderful part of her Oughterard community ever since.

Mary was born Mary Quinn on May 23 1919 in Ballinlisheen, Tubber, Co. Clare, to John Quinn and Mary Kate McKague. She never saw her father as he passed away before she was born, leaving her an only child.

She attended Boston National School and Gort Secondary School, and from a young age worked on the family farm.

Mary married her husband Joe O’ Leary in Tubber church in 1948.  They lived in Ballinlisheen until Joe passed away in July 1997 – and Mary then moved to Gort town.

She moved to the Little Flower Nursing Home, Labane, Ardrahan, on October 14 2011 where she has enjoyed a very fulfilled few years since.

Mary is an avid reader; she loves thrillers and romance, according to Joan Gardiner Surman, Proprietor of the Little Flower Nursing Home.

“She keeps herself informed by reading the daily paper and loves Hello magazine, she has a huge interest in the Royal family,” she said.

She celebrated her birthday in the Little Flower Nursing Home a day early on Sunday – surrounded by her family, the staff who take such great care of her and all the residents of the Little Flower.

“She received a lovely letter of congratulations from President Michael D. Higgins along with a beautiful commemorative medal,” added Joan.

Photos: Mary O’Leary celebrating her 103rd birthday and (right) Oughterard’s Phyl Furness, who celebrated a magnificent 107th birthday this week.

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Connacht Tribune

Ombudsman hears of 125 allegations against Galway Gardaí

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A total of 125 allegations were made against Gardaí in Galway last year, according to a report by Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).

There were 105 allegations made against Galway Gardaí in 2020, and so the figure of 125 last year represents a yearly increase of 19%.

It is also higher than the figure of 103 allegations in GSOC’s 2019 report.

The increase in complaints made to GSOC about Gardaí in Galway mirrors a national trend. In 2021, according to GSOC, 12% more complaints and allegations were lodged against Gardaí.

Among the most common complaints were neglect of duty, which ranges in seriousness from not returning a phone call or not properly investigating a crime; abuse of authority, which could include excessive force; non-fatal offences, which could include assault; and discourtesy, which relates to the manner in which a Garda spoke or behaved towards a person.

Meanwhile, complaints to the recently appointed Public Service Ombudsman Ger Deering reached a new high of 4,004 last year – a 17% increase on 2020, and the highest ever in the 38-year history of the Ombudsman.

And 208 of these complaints came from people in Galway; 53 were made about Galway County Council and the Ombudsman received 42 about Galway City Council. NUIG was the subject of six complaints.

Two complaints were received about Galway Mayo Institute of Technology while the Galway and Roscommon Education and Training Board was the subject of one complaint.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see the May 27 edition of the Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Flexibility needed on designation of Connemara bogs

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A Galway senator has called for flexibility to make ‘small local changes’ over the coming years in relation to the SAC designation of the massive Connemara Bog complex.

Senator Seán Kyne told the Connacht Tribune that such flexibility could make a big difference to local families and communities within this SAC (Special Area of Conservation).

“There are a lot of local issues that arise. For example, people from the area can find it difficult to get planning on their own land and allowance could be made for small community projects that mightn’t necessarily tie in with the SAC requirements,” said Seán Kyne.

He said that in cases like those, where a small area could be taken out of the SAC, it should be possible to compensate with the inclusion of another similar sized portion of land on the fringes of the designation.

Senator Kyne – who raised the matter with Minister of State (Local Government) Peter Burke in a recent Seanad debate – said that the size of the Connemara Bog complex site was very large, approximately 50,000 hectares (c. 125,000 acres).

He added that there was a long-running history to the SAC application dating back to 1997 with a lot of appeals to parts of the designation for an area bounded to the north by Galway-Clifden Road (N59) and to the south by the Moycullen-Spiddal road (L1320).

“The Department is engaging in the final signing off of the SAC. I am inquiring in regard to clarification on the appeals. Will there be any future opportunities in regard to appeals?

“I am not talking about large-scale changes. In some cases, there may be a request for some minor changes to the boundaries of the SAC in the future.

“It could be to rectify some issues where there may be mistakes on the mapping, for example, or there could be areas which are commercially sensitive to somebody, and it may make sense to make a slight change in the boundary and that could be compensated elsewhere with the inclusion of another area . . .

“Can there be minor, but perhaps important, changes in the future which would benefit society, the economy and local communities, whether it is a requirement to remove a small piece to allow for a piece of amenity or commercial infrastructure? Clarification on the processes into the future is important,” said Senator Kyne in the Seanad debate.

Minister of State, Peter Burke, said in reply that the criteria used to set the boundaries of the SAC sites were purely scientific as was required in the nature directives.

He said that since the first public notification of the designation back in 1997, there were 60 appeals or objections received – nine of those were successful; 12 were partially successful; 21 were unsuccessful; and 18 were deemed invalid.

“The appeals process for this site has now concluded and the site has moved onto the final stage of the process which requires the publication of a statutory instrument, formally designating the site.

“The statutory instrument includes a description of the site, a detailed map showing the area, a complete list of habitats and species for which the area was selected and a list of activities which require the consent of the Minister before they can be undertaken in a way that affects the site.

“It is important to note that all relevant protections under Irish law apply to the site from the time [1997] it was publicly notified as proposed for designation,” said Minister of State, Peter Burke.

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