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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway 2020 in discussions on policing of events

Dara Bradley

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Galway 2020 insists it is engaging with Gardaí about the policing plans required next year, when the city becomes European Capital of Culture.

And the company set up to deliver Galway 2020 said a ‘special advisory group’ is being established to plan the logistics of next year’s events, including health and safety and traffic management.

It is understood from Garda sources that senior Gardaí are concerned with the lack of engagement so far in relation to the police staffing requirements that will be needed next year.

But a spokesperson for Galway 2020 said it has been engaging with Gardaí, and will continue to do so.

“Galway 2020 has been engaging with the Gardaí for some time, keeping them informed of plans and requirements for events next year. Meetings have taken place with both local and regional Gardaí to discuss important items including planning, traffic management and safety for outdoor events. Further meetings are scheduled with senior Garda management to keep them abreast of all plans,” a spokesperson said.

She said Galway 2020 was “committed to working closely with the Gardaí to ensure the necessary management of and safety for the many exciting, large-scale events that will take place throughout next year”.

“A special advisory group is being established which include health and safety, major emergency management, roads and traffic and all local Garda input. Further planning meetings will take place on an ongoing basis, as required throughout this year and in 2020 in preparation for individual events.

“We appreciate the support and engagement that we’ve had with the Gardaí thus far and will continue to work closely with them for the safe and successful delivery of events,” added the spokesperson.

Meanwhile, an operational liaison group, involving senior management at Galway City Council and logistics staff at Galway 2020, has been meeting every six to eight weeks, as the city prepares to host the European Capital of Culture.

A Council spokesperson explained that the liaison group was established last November and is headed by Brian Barrett, Senior Executive Officer with responsibility for Culture and Economic Development at City Hall.

Its primary function is to identify areas, outside of direct funding, where Council resources will be needed to be directed during 2020.

Around a dozen people attend the meetings, which will probably become monthly or more frequent as of this September, when the full Galway 2020 programme is known and will be unveiled.

“Every year in the city, we probably have four large-scale events, of crowds of greater than 5,000, that require event licences such as the St Patrick’s Day Parade, Macnas Parade at Halloween and the Christmas Market,” he said.

“Sporting events such as the Races, aren’t included in that. During 2020, there will be those four or five events that happen every year, plus about another four large-scale events associated with Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture. The liaison group is identifying the key resource requirements.

CITY TRIBUNE

Patients moved from Merlin ‘to bolster private numbers’

Enda Cunningham

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Merlin Park: Patients were moved to private hospital.

Health Minister Simon Harris has said he will ask the HSE why patients requiring rehab services were moved from Merlin Park to a private hospital, leaving the state-of-the-art facility idle.

He was asked in the Dáil last week why waiting lists were not being tackled, when capacity at the Galway Clinic and Bon Secours private hospitals is at 15-20%.

Last month, the State entered a deal to ‘take over’ the country’s private hospitals – which has come under criticism in the Dáil with claims of under-utilisation of facilities.

Galway West Deputy Catherine Connolly asked for full details of the agreement with the private hospitals – worth €115m per month nationally – and said nothing about it made sense to her.

“We have major waiting lists and our two private hospitals in Galway City are at 15% to 20% capacity. The hospital itself [UHG] – I must be wrong about this figure but it is what I have been told – was at 30% to 40% capacity as of May 15,” she said.

Department of Health figures for last week show a 39% ‘utilisation’ rate for the Bon Secours and 16% for Galway Clinic.

“The Minister has stood in the Chamber and told us he had to make such arrangements, and certainly I welcomed the narrative at the time that we were taking over the private hospitals to deal with a pandemic. However, we are not utilising them.

“Merlin Park has a state-of-the-art rehab service. It has a gym and all types of therapists but it is now lying idle because, under this deal, the Government transferred the patients from that wonderful facility to a private hospital.

“It took the therapists and patients into the private hospital to allow them to get up to 15% or 20% capacity. It sent the nurses into the public system and left the system empty at Merlin Park, and that is to mention only one service.

“None of the way this has been done makes sense to me. Surely anybody with a bit of sense would know that when the terms and the heads of agreement were signed, it should have allowed for change.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Barriers set to halt groups drinking at quayside

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Access to the green quayside areas off Wolfe Tone Bridge will be blocked from today to prevent large groups of people drinking over the Bank Holiday weekend.

And the message from Garda Chief Superintendent Tom Curley is – enjoy the glorious weekend of weather that’s in store, but diligently maintain the two-metre social distancing rule and don’t consume booze in public areas.

“We are not killjoys and the lovely weather is a boost to everyone’s spirits. People will enjoy the outdoors this weekend but it’s illegal to consume alcohol in public areas and we will be enforcing that bylaw.

“In this kind of weather, there will inevitably be groups of people congregating in outdoor areas – but the message is simple and crystal clear: at all times maintain the two-metre social distancing guideline,” Chief Supt Curley told the Galway City Tribune.

On Tuesday evening last, Gardaí did enforce a dispersal procedure in the Spanish Arch/Claddagh Quay area of the city, after about 200 young people had gathered there, many of them consuming alcohol. They continued to patrol the area yesterday.

A spokesperson for Galway City Council confirmed yesterday that a green area on the Claddagh Quay side of the river – where large groups of young people had gathered this week – would be closed off to the public, probably from today (Friday).
This is a shortened preview version of this article. Please remember that without advertising revenue and people buying and subscribing to our newspapers, this website would not exist. You can read the full article by buying a digital edition of this week’s Galway City Tribune HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Westwood owners plan tourist accommodation usage

Enda Cunningham

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The Westwood student accommodation complex site this week.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The owners of the new Westwood student accommodation in Newcastle are planning to use part of the complex for tourist and business traveller accommodation “in light of the current health pandemic”.

NTM ROI Seed Capital is currently building the five apartment blocks off the N59 and has sought a determination from An Bord Pleanála on whether it would need to apply for planning permission to allow “partial occupation for tourist and visitor use in the academic year from September 1, 2020 to May 31, 2021”.

Under the existing planning permission, the development “shall only be occupied as student accommodation . . . and shall not be used for any other purpose without a prior grant of planning permission for a change of use”.

However, the company has drawn up a contingency plan in the event that construction may not be completed for the coming academic year.

The plan involves allowing tourists and other ‘non-student’ users to be accommodated in the complex – An Bord Pleanála has been asked to determine whether the change would be a ‘material alteration’ of the planning approval or not.

If it is ruled a material alteration, the Board can then invite submissions from members of the public before it decides on whether to approve or reject it.

Already, local residents – who strongly objected to the entire development during the planning process – have expressed concerns about parking issues which they believe would arise if the Westwood is used for tourist use.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. Please remember that without advertising revenue and people buying and subscribing to our newspapers, this website would not exist. You can read the full article by buying a digital edition of this week’s Galway City Tribune HERE.

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