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Galway 2020 blunder curtails launch event in Eyre Square

Dara Bradley



The long-awaited unveiling of the cultural programme for Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture has hit a glitch – the event licence application was invalidated, because it was submitted too late.

Despite a delay in lodging an event licence application with City Hall, Galway 2020 has insisted the launch event in Eyre Square on September 18 will proceed as planned . . . but with a far reduced capacity.

Galway City Council and Galway 2020 have both confirmed that the event will go ahead under an ‘event permit’ rather than an ‘event licence’, as it was advertised too late.

The practical implication of this application mistake is that 3,000 fewer people can attend the launch. Under an event permit, up to 5,000 people are allowed to attend; the capacity crowd for an event with a licence is 8,000.

The mistake also means that the public, and elected members, are deprived of having their say on the application – an event licence can be inspected by the public, who can make formal observations and submissions, and is voted on by city councillors.

On August 22, Galway 2020 published a public notice announcing its intention to apply for an event licence to launch its programme in Eyre Square.

The advertisement said “it is anticipated that an audience of up to 8,000 people will attend this event”. It invited the public to inspect the proposal, and make submissions or observations about the plan.

The Galway City Tribune visited the Planning Department at College Road to inspect the application file but was told it had been “invalidated” because it was lodged too late.

The dates involved are key; the licence application would require approval of elected members, who do not convene again until Monday, September 9. Event licence applications have a statutory three-week window for members of the public to make submissions, which would end on September 12, just six days before the event is to take place.

The delay in lodging the application meant that it did not allow the Chief Executive of the Council, Brendan McGrath, sufficient time to prepare a written report for councillors, or put the item on the Council agenda as per the guidelines.

The Council this week did not share details with the Galway City Tribune of the event permit application, which is currently with its Parks Department.

In a statement to this newspaper, Galway 2020 said: “The programme launch event will proceed as planned on September 18. An event licence and an event permit were both applied for from the outset. Because of a delay in advertising the event licence application, we are progressing with the event permit.

“The event permit allows for an audience capacity of up to 5,000 in Eyre Square. An event licence would have allowed for an audience capacity of up to 8,000. Apart from the reduced potential audience the event will proceed exactly as planned. As part of the application process for the event licence and permit, Galway 2020 has engaged with all of the relevant authorities including the Gardaí in relation to traffic management as well as the HSE and Chief Fire Officer regarding emergency procedures.”

A spokesperson for Galway City Council said: “It is my understanding that Galway 2020 intended to hold a public event in Eyre Square on Wednesday, September 18. They initially thought that the event would attract up to 8,000 people but have since revised that attendance figure downwards to less than 5,000, and so they do not need to go through the statutory process for a public event licence. It is being dealt with by the Parks Department, by way of a permit.”

The event is due to begin at 6pm in Eyre Square, and invites have been issued to dignitaries.


€3bn plan for new hospitals at Merlin Park

Denise McNamara



How the 200-bed elective hospital may 'fit' into the grounds of Merlin Park Hospital.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A 1,150-bed acute hospital and a separate 200-bed elective hospital at Merlin Park – costing in the region of €3 billion and taking up to 15 years to deliver – are included in a new report on health infrastructure needs for Galway.

A review of hospital requirements has produced ambitious proposals for the elective hospital – costing around €1.2bn and taking a decade to build – and acute hospital to replace UHG which would take 15 years to deliver.

The so-called ‘options appraisal’ conducted on behalf of the Saolta University Health Care Group concluded that separating acute and planned services – through the development of a purpose-built elective facility – will greatly improve efficiency and patient access by reducing waiting times and cancellations.

It will allow the Saolta Hospital Group to significantly increase the level of day surgery and reduce length of stay for patients.

Currently there are 46,000 people on a waiting list between the two hospitals with a further 14,000 patients travelling to Dublin from the Saolta region every year for treatment.

“The demand capacity gap will grow to a shortfall of 276 beds at Galway University Hospitals [UHG and Merlin combined] alone. Do nothing is not an option,” consultants KPMG wrote.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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Minister gives go-ahead to army accommodation plan




The USAC complex in Renmore, which is set to be redeveloped.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A 50-year-old building at Dún Uí Mhaoilíosa in Renmore is to be renovated to provide additional accommodation for members of the Defence Forces, the Minister for Defence has confirmed.

Minister Paul Kehoe (FG) told the Dáil that the former University Students Administrative Complement (USAC) complex would be redesigned to accommodate 120 persons living in single rooms.

“The rooms are fitted out to a basic standard and ablution facilities are provided communally. The building is nearly 50 years old and does not meet current standards with respect to building constriction methodology, fire prevention measures and energy efficiency,” said Minister Kehoe.

While currently in its early design stages, it is expected that construction work would commence late next year, he added.

USAC is a purpose-built facility constructed in the 1970s to accommodate Officers of the Defence Forces undertaking courses at third level institutes in Galway.

While located adjacent to the barracks in Renmore, it is outside the confines of the barracks and is self-contained with its own access and parking.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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Taskforce gets down to work in Ballybane

Enda Cunningham



Aoife Tully having fun in Ballybane Playground.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Ballybane Task Force is on a mission.

Since the cooperative made up of all major stakeholders set up two years ago, they have set themselves the goal of highlighting the positive work in train in the eastern suburb while providing support for community, voluntary and residents’ groups that currently operate.

They also want to encourage the participation of all locals – new and long-term – in activities while giving support to developing projects and initiatives.

Already the Task Force has spearheaded some tangible results. Last week, a homework club for secondary school students opened and an afterschool service for primary students will begin in January following the recruitment of staff.

There was further good news earlier this year with the redevelopment of the derelict Ballybane Neighbourhood Centre. It is set to be transformed into a revitalised enterprise centre, scheduled to be open in January.

One of the first tasks the group pursued was to identify gaps in resources and services across Ballybane and lay out a blueprint for action.

They secured funding to appoint a consultant to review this in depth and make recommendations.

The results of that needs analysis have just been published. Its overview of the area’s deprivation makes for stark reading.

Ballybane is described as the area where the older housing estates are bordered by Ballybane Road, Monivea Road and the Dublin Road, but excluding the Doughiska development.

It has a male unemployment rate of 25% or over – compared to a 15% average in the city – a lone parent rate of 35% or higher (24% in the city) and a 35% rate of children leaving school in the early years of secondary school (17%). Just one fifth go onto third level, compared to half elsewhere in the city.

This is a preview only. To read the rest of this feature on the regeneration of ballybane, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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