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Galway City sets sights on All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil

Denise McNamara

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Galway will be applying to host Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in 2020, a festival that could boost city coffers to the tune of €50m.

Never before held in Galway City, the massive event was only ever staged in County Galway in 1955 when it took place in Loughrea.

The application to host the event in the city is being made by the Moycullen branch of Galway Comhaltas. The chairman of the Moycullen branch, Caomhan Ó Fatharta, told the Galway City Tribune they were laying the groundwork for their application by manning a stand at the All-Ireland Fleadh in Ennis from August 9, urging other counties to throw their support behind the bid.

The branch has received a commitment from NUI Galway to host the event in three years’ time after successfully holding the county final last year, with plans to hold the Connacht finals there next year.

“Galway never had the facilities to apply for this before but now the university has two big halls – the Bailey Allen and the Kingfisher – that can hold 2,200 people. We will possibly need a third venue such as the Big Top which holds 1,000,” explained Caomhan.

“We have a lot of work done on this in the Moycullen branch. We’re trying to sort out meetings with the City Council, County Council and councillors to all get behind this as well as the 2020 team because of the enormous cost implications of staging this – it costs €800,000 to run.

“But we plan to definitely submit an application for 2020 after this year’s All-Ireland.”

The spin-offs are huge. In 2013 the jamboree of music, song and dance went north for the first time to Derry City, which staged the biggest event ever held in Comhaltas’ history when 430,000 attended.

There is no reason why Galway could not be even bigger.

Ennis will stage the event this year and next, with a destination yet to be decided for 2018 and 2019. Sligo was the venue for the past two years.

The venue is decided by votes from branches from across the county and internationally. The week before the Fleadh – which generally takes place on the second or third week of August – is also a hive of activity as young musicians undertake week-long tutoring.

Peadar Brick, chairperson of the Galway Comhaltas, declined to comment ahead of a meeting on the issue next week.

He did point out that NUIG boasted the most appropriate facilities in the county as they were compact, capable of holding large crowds with 20 venues on site for different competitions.

The event is generally held in a location for two years in a row. Due to its timing, it will not clash with the other flagship events in the city such as the Galway International Arts Festival or the Galway Races.

Recently the head of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann told the Galway City Tribune that he would welcome an application to host a future Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Galway City.

Labhrás Ó Murchú, director-general of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, remarked: ”Galway City is a wonderful place, it’s such a vibrant city in so many ways because of the language and being so close to the Connemara Gaeltacht and it’s so compact – that’s why Derry was so successful, everything was near together.

“Personally, I spent my younger days in the Connemara Gaeltacht and we used to come into Galway City. I’ve often thought, gosh, wouldn’t this be a great location for the Fleadh Cheoil. The fact that Galway is well used to holding big events like the Galway Races is another Brownie point for Galway that it could well handle large crowds.”

CITY TRIBUNE

Judge refuses to renew drinks licence for ‘out of control’ pub

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District Court Judge Mary Fahy received a round of applause last week when she refused to renew and transfer the annual drinks licence to the owner of the Lantern Bar in Ballybane, following stringent objections from Gardaí and local residents alike.

The judge said the lack of proper management at the premises, particularly over the past year – which had resulted in Gardai having to deal with several public order incidents in the area – had led her to refuse the granting of the licence.

Eight objectors to the licence renewal clapped as the judge gave her judgement.

The owner of the Lantern Bar, Mary Lydon, 10 Blake’s Hill, Gentian Hill, Salthill, had applied to the Annual Licensing District Court for the transfer to her of the seven-day ordinary licence attached to The Lantern Bar and Snooker Hall, which had been licensed to her now former tenant, Kingu Kongu Ltd, and licensee, Danny Kenny.

Mrs Lydon had also applied to the court for the transfer of the licence, in accordance with the provisions of Section 30 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act, 1927, “freed and discharged from any endorsements against, or records of offences committed by the former licensee”.

Sergeant Brendan Moore, who is the Licensing Sergeant for Galway City objected to the renewal of the annual licence on behalf of the Gardaí.

Mr Kenny was not present for the contested hearing.

Handing a medical report into court, his solicitor informed Judge Fahy that Mr Kenny contacted him two hours before the hearing was scheduled to begin that afternoon, stating he would be unable to attend due to a medical condition.

Judge Fahy refused the solicitor’s request to adjourn the hearing, noting the objectors had been in court all day waiting for the case to be heard.

Sgt Moore said he had given the solicitor a document, summarising the Garda objections to the granting of the licence, listing five different incidents which were alleged to have happened in or near the pub.

Benen Fahy, solicitor, explained he represented Mrs Lydon. Mr Fahy said Mr Kenny had surrendered his lease of the pub to Mrs Lydon in August and had signed the back of the licence to facilitate its transfer to her and the premises had been closed since then.

He said his client had not been aware of any problems with the management of the premises until recently and she now wanted to regularise matters.

“She has put the property up for sale and does not intend to open it again,” he added.

Sgt Moore called evidence to support the Gardaí’s application objecting to the renewal.

Five Gardaí in turn gave evidence about several public order incidents which were alleged to have occurred in the vicinity of the pub in the last year.

Garda Paul Gahan said he received a report of men fighting in the pub’s carpark on Sunday morning, June 2 last.  He arrived there at 1.20am to find one man being assaulted by several members of his own family. All were intoxicated and informed him they had been drinking earlier in the pub. Closing time was 12.30a.m.

“It took at least six Gardaí arriving in three Garda cars up to 20 minutes to diffuse the situation. The injured man withdrew his complaint so no prosecutions ensued,” he said.

Garda Pat Casey gave evidence he inspected the pub at 1am on May 12 last and found a number of people, including a 16-year-old juvenile, drinking there. He confirmed a prosecution was pending for that matter.

Garda Michael Gallagher said he was called to the premises at 12.30am on May 6 last after the manager reported a large Christening party had “gone out of control” upstairs in the pub.

He said the manager remained outside the premises as he and a female colleague tried to get the forty or so intoxicated family members to leave. “It was totally out of control and we had to call for assistance. There was chaos inside. There was no staff upstairs. They left it to the Gardaí to sort it out. The manager said he had lost control,” he told the court.

Garda Gallagher said he tried to reason with the father of the baby boy who had been christened but had to arrest him when he became threatening and abusive when asked to leave the area.

He confirmed that at least 12 Gardaí had to lend assistance on the night.

Garda Cian O’Boyle said he noticed one of the men at the Christening party upstairs in the pub had blood all over his face. He said he went to speak to a juvenile who was drinking but the juvenile ran outside into the carpark where he started fighting with another male.

He said he arrested the juvenile for being drunk in public and for breaching the peace.

Garda Christine Galvin said she responded to an incident in the early hours of New Year’s Day along with several Garda units, including the armed Regional Support Unit.

She said that up to 70 patrons were engaging in verbal disputes outside the pub.

“People were pulling each other’s hair. It was unsafe to enter the premises as people were leaving it. Gardaí were trying to get control of things happening outside.

“Patrons were crossing the road in front of traffic. Some went into Lios na Rún and started arguing there. People were arrested and a file is with the DPP about what happened that night.

“The premises was open and people were exiting as Gardaí arrived. The Gardaí were there to maintain control of the situation. People were very intoxicated, aggressive and very disrespectful to the Gardaí there.

“I just felt sorry for people living in the area,” Garda Galvin said.

Sgt Moore said he had never met the licensee on the many occasions he had inspected The Lantern pub, and he said he had inspected it more often than any other premises in the city since taking charge of Garda licensing matters.

“There was no proper control of the premises by the licensee and no regard for the Licensing Act.

“This is a densely populated residential area and the number of disturbances that have emanated from that premises and that have spilled out into the surrounding housing estates, has affected people’s quality of life,” Sgt Moore added.

Mr Kenny’s solicitor said he felt the Garda’s application, objecting to the renewal of the licence, should be struck out as the evidence stated some of the incidents occurred outside the premises and the licensee could not be held accountable for those.

Mr Fahy said the premises had been taken back and the licensee (Mr Kenny) had no involvement with it any more. He noted prosecutions were pending and they should be dealt with and those responsible punished for whatever breaches of the licensing laws they were responsible for.  Judge Fahy said her hands were tied because Mr Kenny was not in court to give evidence saying he was no longer involved.

Mary Lydon gave evidence she had leased the premises to Kingu Kongu Ltd for four years and nine months from April 2016. She said her son, Terry Lydon, looks after a portfolio of eight pubs which she owns.

She said her son started to have concerns over the running of the premises in recent months and spoke to the licensee who agreed to surrender the lease.

Mrs Lydon said she would be putting the premises up for sale after works were carried out to the satisfaction of the Fire Officer.

Sgt Moore put it to Mrs Lydon she was giving the impression she didn’t know what was going on at the premises or how it was being ran even though she lived in Galway.

“Should the license be renewed here today, how will we know that you won’t transfer it to another tenant?” he asked.

Mrs Lydon said she would not be leasing it again.

“I only want my licence back to get rid of the whole lot,” she replied.

Sgt Moore put to her that the licensee was aware of the Garda objections to the renewal since August, so he was aware of the objections when he surrendered the lease back to her in September.

“Don’t you know that this is merely a device to avoid objections and refusal of the licence renewal? He ran amok up there.

“You will find another tenant and in the meantime, no one is responsible for what went on,” Sgt Moore said.

“There will not be another licensee up there,” Mrs Lydon tried to assure him.

“We don’t know that,” the sergeant replied.

Terry Lydon said a YouTube video he saw last January of people arguing in the pub carpark prompted him to speak to Mr Kenny, telling him it was time for him to “move on” and hand the premises back.

Sgt Moore said there was nothing to stop witness getting another tenant in there “and continue your ‘hands-off, laissez-faire’ approach, expecting the Gardai to run your property for you”.

Mr Lydon said he took steps to get the premises back and he did get it back in September.

Judge Fahy observed it was strange that nobody was “moved on” the licensee in January, February or March and not until the licence came up for renewal in September, even though witness was aware of problems in its management since January.

Judge Fahy observed it was up to the licensee to control a premises and not the Gardaí.

She upheld the Garda objections and made an order refusing the renewal of the licence, stating the premises was not being run properly.

Mr Fahy asked about his application to have the licence transferred to his client.

“Your licence has not been renewed so you have nothing to transfer,” Judge Fahy replied.

She said she had made her order and he could appeal her decision to a higher court if he so wished.

She said that for the transfer application to proceed, the licensee would have to be in court.

“It’s unprecedented that the licensee is not in court and I’m not happy the medical letter is genuine. It covers yesterday and today I do not know, but the licensee is not in court,” the judge said.

Mr Fahy said his application was for the transfer of the current licence to his client and he asked the judge to adjourn the application to another date.

Judge Fahy again refused the application, stating the licensee had not been in control of the premises and the owner, since last January, had made absolutely no effort to remedy the situation and take it back until last month.

She reiterated she was refusing the application for transfer of the licence back to Mrs Lydon.

Mr Fahy intimated he would be appealing the court’s decision.

The residents clapped when the final order was made.

Afterwards, one woman said eight objectors had come to court to represent the people of Ballybane.

“We’re all very happy with the decision. That’s all we want to say,” she said. “No more drink late at night,” another woman added.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway West TD branded ‘racist’ in the Dáil

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Galway Bay fm newsroom – A Galway West TD has been branded racist in the Dail today during leaders questions, after questioning the amount of money being sent from Ireland to Nigeria.

Independent TD Noel Grealish raised the subject of the large sums of money being transferred abroad in personal remittances.

During his speech in the chamber, Deputy Grealish spoke of how €10 billion has been sent abroad in personal remittance over the past eight years.

According to figures presented by him, the countries that receive the most transfers are Poland at €1.5 billion, the UK at €2.7 billion and Nigeria at €3.54 billion.

Responding to the Galway TD, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that the Irish people have a long history of sending money home.

Then, heated scenes erupted in the Chamber as Deputy Grealish called for stricter controls on personal remittance, with Deputy Ruth Coppinger accusing the Galway TD of ‘disgraceful racism’.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway GAA resurrects floodlights plan for Pearse Stadium

Enda Cunningham

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Pearse Stadium under temporary floodlights for Ireland v Australia in 2006.

The GAA has resurrected hugely controversial plans to install floodlights at Pearse Stadium.

Planning permission is due to expire next month for the erection of three 30.5 metre and two 36.5 metre high columns – each with between 33 and 40 lighting fixtures – at the stadium.

However, the Galway County Board of the GAA has now told the City Council that it will begin work in 2021.

The GAA has applied to the Council for a five-year Extension of Duration of the planning permission.

Permissions, as a general rule, expire after a period of five years from approval – the lights were given the go-ahead by An Bord Pleanála at the end of December 2014.

However, the GAA said that financial commitments elsewhere in Galway, the economic crash and downturn in attendances meant the plan for the lights had not gone ahead.

A commencement date of February 2021 has been indicated to the Council, with a completion date three months later.

“Due to the extensive programme of works being carried out for ground developments to other GAA stadiums throughout Galway, i.e. Loughgeorge, Tuam, etc, by Galway GAA, the development has not fallen within the financial budget and financial programme of works in order to enable the works to be carried out.

“Also due to the recession and the downturn in the economic climate, attendances at fixtures across the county and country had deplenished and as such, and to date, it was not a viable venture to commence.

“However, as other development works are being completed and with the upturn in the economy, we are confident that the proposed development will fall within the programme of works for the year commencing January 2021.

“Although we do envisage that the development will be completed before 2022, we are requesting the maximum extension period of five years,” the GAA told the Council.

In August 2014, the City Council approved the plans despite concerns expressed in nearly 100 objections from locals and residents’ groups that the lights would seriously harm the residential amenity in the area.

That decision was subsequently the subject of seven appeals –submitted by the Claddagh Residents’ Association, two from the Glenard Residents’ Association and on behalf of Rockbarton residents, while individual appeals were lodged ‘care of’ three other residents.

Concerns were raised over the impact the noise and lights would have on nearby homes, illegal parking, health & safety and traffic congestion.

One residents’ association argued that the lights would require an unrealistic and therefore unworkable regime to mitigate adverse impacts, particularly having regard to the history of unauthorised development at the Stadium.

An Bord Pleanála spent four months considering the appeals, and ruled that the lights ‘would not seriously injure the amenities of the area or of property in the vicinity, would not be prejudicial to public health, and would be acceptable in terms of traffic safety and convenience’.

However, they ruled that the lights can only be used on a maximum of 12 occasions between October 1 and March 31 in any one calendar year.

“They use shall be solely for the facilitation of match playing and shall not be used for training, concerts or any other recreational activity,” the Board added.

The lights were not to be used after 10pm, and restrictions have been placed on the level of illumination allowable. The middle mast on the Dr Mannix Road side must be demountable and removed from the site before April 30 and not erected before October 1 each year.

The Board ordered that the use of the floodlights must also be logged and a report submitted to the Council by April 30 each year – in the event of a dispute, the log must be made available to the Council for public inspection within one month of request.

The Council is due to make a decision on the Extension of Duration application in early January.

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