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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway 2020 blunder curtails launch event in Eyre Square

Dara Bradley

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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.

CITY TRIBUNE

Covid could leave Galway City Council with €25m budget hole

Stephen Corrigan

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Shop STreet this week.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway City Council is facing into a “potential crisis scenario” with a forecasted €25 million black hole in its budget, unless the Government comes good on a promise to plug the gap left by Covid-19.

That’s according to City Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath who told councillors this week that the commercial rates waiver introduced by Government and a drop in income from goods and services provided by the local authority could slash their forecast annual revenue by 25%.

Mr McGrath said the last Government, when it introduced the rates waiver for cash-strapped businesses in March, had committed to €260 million to be put aside to bolster local authority finances, but no detail of how that will be rolled out had been provided.

“We are hoping as part of the July stimulus package, the new Government will give us the detail we so desperately need,” he said.

“Our rates standing orders have been wiped out to the tune of 90%.”

Tourism was crucial to the economic success of Galway, he continued, with approximately 80% of city businesses reliant on tourists to stay afloat.

“We have the highest percentage dependency of any local authority on rates from the tourism and hospitality sector,” said Mr McGrath.

It was for that reason that the Executive was seeking councillors’ approval to free up €485,000 of the so-called ‘Marketing Sinking Fund’ to finance a raft of tourism initiatives aimed at boosting the local economy by attracting domestic tourists as Covid-related restrictions are eased, in what Mr McGrath referred to as “temporary internal borrowing”.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, and more on the tourism promotion plans, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Seafront prom and new train station planned for Murrough

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A vision of a new urban district on GMIT lands at Murrough – including a seafront promenade and new train station – has been submitted to Government for funding approval.

Galway City Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath has outlined a plan to ‘leverage’ land and resources of the third level institute to create a new East City Urban District.

Mr McGrath has included the plans in an application for funding under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF).

The total value of the project would be €61 million, he said, which values the land at Murrough at about €14 million.

“We are seeking URDF investment to activate these sites as catalysts to boost population and economic output for the city and region,” Mr McGrath told city councillors.

He said that by leveraging the lands at GMIT, the Council was delivering on a target in the National Planning Framework 2040, which states there should be “special focus on capitalising on the potential of underutilised and publicly owned and centrally located sites”.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Plans to double size of Galway City student complex

Enda Cunningham

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A computer-generated image of how the new Cúirt na Coiribe would look.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The investment fund which owns the Cúirt na Coiribe student accommodation complex on the Headford Road is planning to more than double the number of bed spaces there to 920.

Exeter Property Group, one of the biggest property investment groups in the world, has applied to An Bord Pleanála for permission to demolish a two-storey building to the front of the development and to remove the existing fifth floor attic level from the next block.

The proposal involves extending upwards and outwards to create a total of 920 bed spaces in 868 bedrooms in a single building with nine linked blocks ranging from two to six storeys.

The project includes a gym/fitness studio in the basement, a games room, library/study spaces, café/restaurant and lounge spaces.

There will be 59 carparking spaces and 656 cycle spaces included. A total of 398 of the 405 existing bed spaces will be retained.

It is proposed that the existing bed spaces will retain their original planning permission which allows for short-stay lets throughout the year, and the additional 515 spaces would only be permitted to be used as short-stay lets during the summer months.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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