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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway 2020: No closure on opening ceremony costs saga

Dara Bradley

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Senator Pauline O'Reilly who is putting pressure on her Green Party colleague, Minister Catherine Martin, to seek transparency on costs from 2020.

Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column by Dara Bradley

Galway 2020, the company set up to deliver the European Capital of Culture this year, advised officials in the Department of Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht in February that costs associated with its aborted opening ceremony in Claddagh “were still being assessed”.

At a meeting with officials, minutes of which were released under Freedom of Information (FOI), “it was noted that much of the cost and activity” relating to the opening ceremony that was cancelled due to Storm Ciara, “were realised, including county events and community engagement over a sustained period”.

Interestingly, even though the costs were “realised” (that is, spent), it wasn’t recorded in the minutes how much Galway 2020 actually spent on the abandoned ceremony.

Fast forward five months to July, and Patricia Philbin, CEO of Galway 2020, who was at that February meeting with Department officials, was again asked about the opening ceremony costs.

This time it was City Councillors probing but the response was similar.

Galway 2020 at a meeting of Galway City Council, could not clarify a breakdown of the total €2.3 million costs to the organisation – and by extension the taxpayer – of the cancelled opening ceremony that was due to go ahead in The Swamp in the Claddagh.

An insurance claim is pending, but surely the public has a right to know how exactly its money has been spent?

How much did the stage cost, for example? Does the final outlay include travel and accommodation costs for VIPs guests such as 10 EU Ambassadors to Ireland who were due to attend? Were the MCs and performers, who were booked months in advance, paid retainers? And so on and so on.

Galway Senators Pauline O’Reilly (Greens) and Ollie Crowe (FF) have called for a full breakdown of how Galway 2020 has spent a total €18m to date. Not another cent of public money should be handed over, until that breakdown is provided.
For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

CITY TRIBUNE

Council to consider new pedestrian ‘plaza’ for Galway City

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors will be asked next month to consider a sweeping overhaul of traffic flow in the city centre as the local authority seeks to create a more pedestrian-friendly core in the wake of Covid-19.

Currently under proposal in City Hall are major alterations to traffic flow which will allow for restricted car access to Middle Street – creating additional outdoor seating space for businesses in the area struggling to cope amid social distancing requirements.

Senior Engineer at City Hall, Uinsinn Finn, said they are currently considering three different proposals to alter traffic flow on Merchants Road, Augustine Street and Flood Street to reduce the need for car access to Middle Street, while still maintaining access for residents.

“We already pedestrianised Cross Street and we will be maintaining that, and there will be a proposal for Middle Street and Augustine Street.

“Businesses in the area are very much in favour of pedestrianisation – one business has objections but the others are supportive. Another consideration is that there are residents there with parking spaces and we are trying to encourage people to live in the city centre,” said Mr Finn.

The Latin Quarter business group submitted proposals for the temporary pedestrianisation of Middle Street and Abbeygate Street Lower but Mr Finn said the proposals the Council were considering were more in the line of creating adequate space for pedestrians while still allowing residents vehicular access.

This would involve creating a circuit for car traffic moving through Merchants Road around onto Augustine Street and exiting at Flood Street.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Residents want laneway closed following pipe bomb scare

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Residents in part of Knocknacarra are calling for the closure of a laneway and for more Community Gardaí to be put on the beat following the discovery of a ‘viable’ pipe-bomb type device in the area last weekend.

Up to 13 homes in the Cimín Mór and Manor Court estates had to be evacuated on Friday evening last when the incendiary device was discovered by Gardaí concealed in an unlit laneway, leading to the emergency services being notified.

An Army EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) unit was called to the scene and removed the device – according to local residents and councillors, the Gardaí have confirmed that the device was viable.

Gardaí have declined to comment on the detail of the case but have confirmed that the matter is being ‘actively and vigorously investigated’.

Chairman of the Cimín Mór Residents’ Association, Pat McCarthy, told the Galway City Tribune that the discovery of the viable device on the narrow laneway that links their estate to Manor Court was extremely frightening for all concerned.

“For the best part of the past 20 years, we have been seeking action to be taken on this laneway which has been used for dumping and unsociable behaviour on a repeated basis.

“But what happened last Friday evening was really the last straw for us. This could have resulted in serious injury to innocent people and what is also of concern to us is how close this was to the two schools in the area,” said Mr McCarthy.

He said that over the coming days, the residents’ association would be petitioning all residents in the three estates concerned – the other two being Manor Court and Garraí Dhónaill – for action to be taken on the laneway.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway designer’s necklace is fit for a princess!

Denise McNamara

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Kate Middleton wearing the necklace designed by Aisling O'Brien

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A Galway jewellery designer is the latest to experience the ‘Kate effect’ after fans tracked down the woman who created a necklace for the Duchess of Cambridge which she has worn several times since it was gifted to her during her trip to the city last March.

Aisling O’Brien’s website crashed on Wednesday night when orders poured in for the piece from around the world. The necklace costs €109 with initials, while the earrings retail for €49.

“I’d never sold more than two things outside of Ireland before. I only had three of Kate’s necklaces in stock – and now I have orders for at least 50. I’ll have to start recruiting some elves,” laughs Aisling, who only set up her website during lockdown.

The 14-carat gold necklace and earrings set was designed by Aisling specially for Kate after examining her style – “understated, elegant, simplicity” is how the Tuam native describes it.

She was contacted about the commission by physiotherapist Thérèse Tully, who wanted to give the future queen a gift as she was using her room to change at Árus Bóthar na Trá beside Pearse Stadium when the royal couple were meeting with GAA teams.

(Photo: Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton wearing the necklace)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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