Galway’s newest county councillors have filed ethics returns with the local authority, giving details of their business and property interests.
All county councillors, who were newly elected in May’s Local Elections, filed their ethics declarations with County Hall, listing land and property they own, and shares or directorships of companies they possess.
Cllr Liam Carroll (FG), in his ethics returns, lists that he sold his shares in Anchor Safety Limited, Briarhill Business Park, in November 2018. His directorship of the company, a supplier of personal protective equipment, and safety products, ceased in November 2018, he said.
The company, he said, has contracts with a total of 18 local authorities across Ireland, including Galway City and County Councils, Mayo County Council and South Dublin County Council. Cllr Carroll declared that he was also a voluntary director of Oranmore Community Development Association.
Cllr David Collins (FG) declared his home in Turloughmore and 15 acres of land for “hay and grazing”. He said he is a director of HPS Vision, a telecommunications company at Parkmore. “We currently have a contract with the Galway County Council Local Enterprise Office for 2019,” he said.
Cllr Shelly Herterich Quinn (FF) declared a rental property on the Cappagh Road in the city, and lists two voluntary directorships of Athenry Community Council and Athenry and District Community Employment Scheme.
Cllr Declan Geraghty (Ind) holds shares in eight businesses, according to his returns. The companies relate to property management, concrete, building, oil, retail and manufacturing. One of the businesses – DG Roofing Ltd – has supplied goods to Galway and Roscommon County Councils, according to the documents.
Cllr Geraghty owns a storage yard on the Old Bog Road in Williamstown and a business on the main street, as well as office and retail units at Racecourse Road in Roscommon, his declaration said.
Cllr Peter Keaveney (FG), a farmer and agri contractor, lists a voluntary directorship of Glenamaddy and District Development Company. Cllr Pádraig Mac An Iomaire (FG), a funeral director, lists ownership of two properties – a house and a bar – that are leased or rented out. Cllr Gerry King (FF), a fish farmer, owns farmland in Clifden, according to his returns. He is also a director of West Connemara Leisure Centre, Clifden.
Cllr PJ Murphy (Ind) in Ardrahan lists four separate occupations and professions – carpentry, honey production, teaching and suckler cow farming. He owns agricultural land in Kilchreest, and lists that he is a benefactor of farm land and buildings at Kilchreest and Ardrahan.
Headford-based Cllr Andrew Reddington (FG), a teacher, lists part-time farming, a site and a rented house in Castlebar among his interests.
Cllr Joe Sheridan (FF), a manager of a pub in Dunmore, and food science engineer, lists his home in Milltown and business in Dunmore. Cllr Alastair McKinstry (Green), an NUIG employee, listed his family home in Moycullen.
Cllr Dáithí Ó Cualáin (FF), a nurse at UHG, lists a family home in Indreabhán. Cllr Geraldine Donohue (Ind), a part-time farmer and secretarial assistant to Senator Victor Boylan, lists a family home in Kylebrack.
Cllr Colm Keaveney (FF) lists a “dwelling” in Tuam. Cllr Albert Dolan (FF), an accountant, and Cllr Aisling Dolan (FG), a project manager at NUIG, have declared no interests.
All councillors’ completed ethics declaration forms can be inspected online.
Property tops the list for established local reps
A county councillor owns a company that does business with all local authorities in the country, according to annual declarations of interests filed with County Hall.
Cllr Seamus Walsh (FF), an engineer and planning consultant, lists farmland in Westmeath and Oughterard in his interests. He is a director of Ashford Building Services Ireland Limited, Oughterard, which is “not trading at present”, and of Esperanza Enterprises, which is involved in engineering and education, also in Oughterard. In his declaration, Cllr Walsh said that Esperanza Enterprises has contracts with “all” local authorities.
Cllr Joe Byrne (FG) lists ownership or part-ownership of residential properties in Kinvara, as well as owning shares in Greengross Development, a “non-trading” property development company in Kinvara, of which he is also a director. He is a director of Kinvara Heritage Trust, Burren Enterprise Ltd, Gort Golf Club and Yeat’s Thoor Ballylee Society.
Cllr Jimmy McClearn (FG) listed rental properties in Ballinasloe, Athlone, Galway and Portumna among his interests, as well as his family home and directorships of two not for profit organisations, Killimor Recreation and Fitness Ltd and Killimor Development Ltd.
Cllr Tom Welby (Ind), lists land he owns in Oughterard, and directorships of several not-for-profit organisations including Oughterard Courthouse Conservation and Heritage; Oughterard Community Centre; Oughterard Community Enterprise; and Corribdale Ground.
Cllr Gerry Finnerty (FF), a publican, farmer, and marts admin officer, owns faming land in Peterswell and Tubber, according to his returns.
Cllr Martina Kinnane (FF) declared a family home in Clarinbridge, as well as shares in St Mary’s funeral home in Menlough. She is a board member of Galway Rural Development in Athenry, Athenry Heritage Centre and Bridge That Gap, a community development group.
Cllr Mary Hoade (FF) lists ownership of three properties, including two rental houses, as well as directorships of Williams Motor Warehouse, Corrandulla Community Childcare and Headford Eco Park Enterprise Centre.
Cllr Donagh Killilea (FF), a farmer, and manager of City Bin Company, declared his home on 95 acres of land at Belclare in his returns.
Cllr James Charity (Ind), a barrister, lists agricultural land and shares in Greencore among his interests. He is a director of Annaghdown Parish Council, a community development company, and the Parish Office in Corrandulla, which is also voluntary.
Cllr Gabe Cronnelly (Ind), under “any other additional interests”, lists Galway Game Hunting Association, Cregmore/Athenry Anglers, Monivea Boxing Club and Athenry Tidy Towns.
Cllr Jim Cuddy (Ind) declared a quarter ownership of 35 acres of forestry in Swinford, County Mayo.
Cllr Tim Broderick (Ind), a publican in Kilconnell, had no interests to declare. Cllr Dermot Connolly (SF) declared a farm in Aughrim.
Cllr Michael Connolly (FF), a sheep farmer in Moylough, declared a directorship of Ballinasloe Enterprise Centre. He said he was the County Council’s representative on the committee and he receives “no expenses” for his membership. Cllr Eileen Mannion (FG) declared a family home and share in a rental property in Clifden.
Cllr Tomas Ó Curraoin (RSF) declared a family home in Barna; Cllr Ivan Canning, director of Canning Hurleys, declared a family home in Portumna; Cllr Michael ‘Moegie’ Maher (FG) declared a family home in Loughrea; Cllr Pete Roche (FG) listed a family home on six acres; and Cllr Karey McHugh (Ind) listed her own home.
There was nothing declared in the forms returned by Cllr Pat Hynes (Ind), Cllr Noel Thomas (FF), or Cllr Shane Curley (FF), a teacher.
Passport applications left in limbo because of lack of Gardaí in rural stations
Garda shortages in rural stations are causing holiday hell for families whose passport applications are stuck in limbo.
Galway County Councillor Shelley Herterich Quinn (FF) said a number of local families have missed their holiday abroad because of delays in issuing passports to infants or first-time applicants.
Child and first-time applications for passports need to be verified by An Garda Síochána. But she claimed that staff shortages in Garda stations, particularly rural ones, meant that passport applications could not be signed off on.
One young mother who contacted the Tribune said she has been waiting months for the Passport Office to issue a passport for her baby.
She said the Passport Office blamed the delay on difficulties contacting Gardaí at Galway Garda Station to verify she was the legal guardian of the child.
Describing it as a ‘fiasco’, Cllr Herterich Quinn said many parents were in a similar situation and had missed their holiday over it. She has written to the Minister of Foreign Affairs about the issue.
“The devastation to families who had booked holidays abroad for the first time in three years, with seemingly ample time to have their passports issued, but for whatever reason, the passport never arrived. Thousands of Euros lost. Hundreds disappointed. We’ve had holidays missed, without compensation,” she said.
Cllr Herterich Quinn blamed a lack of Garda resources in some cases.
“Due to current constraints in An Garda Síochána, many Garda Stations are unmanned for hours and even days at a time, particularly in rural Ireland. Therefore it is very difficult for applicants to get their applications verified in the first instance,” she said.
The Passport Office officials must then verify the application with the Garda Station where the application form was stamped. And the only record of the application is a handwritten entry in a ledger at the station. But because some stations are not manned, the calls from the Passport Office are diverted to other stations.
“These stations cannot verify the application. If the appropriate station cannot be reached after one or two attempts, the application does not proceed and indeed a new application may have to be made,” she said.
Cllr Herterich Quinn called on the Department of Foreign Affairs to work with Gardaí and Passport Office to implement an electronic method of verifying passport applications, using existing or a new online portal.
“The implementation of this electronic method of verification would negate the need for the Garda Station to verify the application as it would already be verified electronically, using the Garda’s personal identification number, via the ‘Passport Application Verification Portal’ between An Garda Síochána and the Passport Office,” she said.
Emissions targets ‘crazy attack’ on rural Ireland
Farm leaders and opposition politicians have warned that the 25% emissions reduction for the agricultural sector – agreed last week by the Cabinet – could have massive negative implications for farming and the rural economy over the coming years.
Two former Ministers have accused the Government of going ‘for the soft touch option’ and of launching ‘a crazy attack’ on the farming community, with their latest emissions’ targets.
Former Minister of State, Deputy Seán Canney, described the 25% reduction in agricultural emissions between now and 2030 as ‘a PR stunt without any back-up details’.
“The passing of the Climate Action Bill set in train this crazy attack on farming. The Bill was supported by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael backbench TDs, so they just cannot blame the Greens,” he said.
He added that with only vague promises of financial supports and no money in place, young people would find it difficult to stay farming.
“This knee-jerk reaction from the Government will pose serious problems for family farms around the country,” said Deputy Canney.
According to Roscommon-Galway Independent TD, Denis Naughten, the ‘sad reality’ of the situation was that agriculture was now being treated as ‘the soft touch’ in terms of emissions reduction targets.
He also said that the Government must assure the farming sector that if their 2030 emissions reduction targets are not met in other sectors, then agriculture can not be asked again for further reductions.
“The reality is that right across each of the emission sectors, we are now seeking monumental change over the next 89 months, a rate of change that has not been achieved anywhere on our planet.
“This can only be realistically achieved through the development of innovative solutions to address Ireland’s unique challenges.
“The fact that 37% of our population live in isolated rural areas and are reliant to such a huge extent on solid and oil-fired central heating are examples of these unique challenges,” said Denis Naughten.
Galway-Mayo IFA Regional Executive, Roy O’Brien, told the Connacht Tribune that the emissions’ reduction target in agriculture could not be measured; was badly thought out; and would be largely unworkable.
“Every farm is different – there is no one size fits all solution on this issue. How can solutions be put in place for something that can’t be measured,” said Roy O’Brien.
Co Galway IFA Chairman, Stephen Canavan, said that no one really had a clue as to how the proposed emissions’ cut would be worked out on individual farms.
“We’re being told that this will all be a voluntary process, but I don’t think anyone has an idea about all this will work out. There simply is no roadmap in place for this whole process,” said Stephen Canavan.
Macra na Feirme National President, John Keane, said this week that the 25% reduction in sectoral emissions for the agriculture sector between now and 2030 puts Ireland’s farm family model at risk without any plan in place as to how farmers can achieve these targets.
“Macra na Feirme has not seen any governmental economic impact assessment outlining how a reduction of 25% will affect the rural economy and the individual family farms that will be expected to deliver this target.
“We now have an arbitrary figure with no agreed science-based pathway to achieving this target that ensures farm viability and allows young people to enter the sector.
“A detailed plan with substantial funding for its delivery is lacking and farmers are failing to see the much talked about just transition in action for farm families,” said John Keane.
In a Farmers Journal commissioned study by KPMG Consultants – and published last week – it was stated that a 21% emissions’ reduction in agriculture would result in 10,000 job losses while a 30% cut would lead to a massive 56,400 jobs cut.
(Photo: Roy O’Brien of the IFA)
Consultants ‘must engage with locals’ over Galway-Athlone greenway plans
The controversial greenway between Galway and Athlone could be bound up in legal red tape for years if the consultants do not properly engage with local residents and ensure that the end product will be to their benefit.
That’s according to local Councillor Jimmy McClean who has come up with a different approach to ‘selling’ the concept, which has now been agreed by members of Galway County Council.
This would see the greenway projected as something that would not alone benefit tourists but would also accommodate local householders and landowners in terms of connectivity.
A route which goes from Athlone through Shannonbridge, Meelick, Portumna, Gort, Kinvara and into Galway City has emerged as the preferred option for the €150 million greenway.
The developers of the project – including Galway County Council and Transport Infrastructure Ireland – have said that this route will run through publicly-owned lands as far as possible, including Bord na Mona trails, Coillte forestry roads and ESB-owned property.
Landowners along the preferred route have complained about lack of consultation, expressed fears of their farms being dissected and dread the prospect of Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) being applied to acquire the lands necessary to construct the greenway.
According to Cllr McClearn, the development of a hybrid model that would also benefit residents and landowners along the proposed route was the desired option to see the project through within a realistic timeframe.
The discussion about the 140km Athlone to Galway greenway arose at a meeting of the County Council as a result of a motion from Cllr McClearn who suggested a hybrid model should be applied to the route.
This would involve the provision of several links that would branch out from the main route to different localities along the way – thereby making it user-friendly for local communities.
“It is quite evident that there is huge resistance to what is being proposed at the moment and if there is no change, it will wind up in the courts and face long delays.
“Local farmers and residents in the Meelick and Stoneyisland areas in my Council area are totally opposed to what the consultants have been pursuing up to now.
“They see no benefit for themselves or their families unless the greenway was to become a cycleway in these pinch-point areas as it would mean that children and adults could cycle or walk safely to their neighbours and this would be beneficial to their quality of life.
“It would also give people using the greenway an opportunity to understand and interact with locals, to visit local attractions and understand what services are available locally,” Cllr McClearn added.
This motion was supported by several councillors from all sides of the Council chamber and was accepted by the Council Executive as something that will now be pursued.