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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.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City publican in heroic River Corrib rescue

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A city publican who last week helped save the life of a woman who had entered the waters of the Corrib off Wolfe Tone Bridge has made an appeal for young people to ‘look out for each other’.

Fergus McGinn, proprietor of McGinn’s Hop House in Woodquay, had been walking close to Jury’s Inn when he saw the young woman enter the river.

He then rushed to the riverbank on the Long Walk side of the bridge, jumped into the water, spoke to the woman and stayed with her until the emergency services arrived.

The incident occurred at about 3.45pm on Friday last, and a short time later the emergency services were on the scene to safely rescue the woman.

“She was lucky in that the river level was very low and she didn’t injure herself on the rocks and stones just under the water.”

He also appealed to the public to support in whatever they could the work being done by groups like the Claddagh Watch volunteers.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Pubs face court – for serving booze on their doorsteps!

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Gardaí have warned city publicans that alcohol cannot be served outside their own premises – even in newly-created on-street spaces designated by Galway City Council as suitable for outdoor dining.

Councillor Mike Crowe (FF) said three Gardaí visited a number of city centre pubs on Thursday afternoon informing them that drinking outdoors was not allowed under licensing laws.

“They warned publicans and restaurants that the area outside their premises is not covered by the licence, and therefore under national legislation, they are breaking the law, because they are not entitled to sell alcohol in non-licensed areas.

“The operators were told that this was an official warning, and they will be back again in a few days and if it persisted, they [Gardaí] would have no option but to issue a charge and forward files to the Director of Public Prosecution. You could not make this up.

“All of the big operators were visited, and received an official warning, and they will be charged if they persist. According to the guards, they’re getting instructions from [Garda headquarters in] Phoenix Park,” he said.

The matter will be raised at a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee on Monday.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Call for 50% affordable homes in new Galway City Council estates

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The next Galway City Development Plan should include a greater provision for affordable housing than that recommended by Government, a meeting of the City Council has heard.

Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind) told the meeting that while it was the Government’s intention to introduce a stipulation that new estates should have 10% affordable housing, Galway should go further – building anything up to 50% affordable in developments that are led by the local authority.

The Affordable Housing Bill, which is currently working its way through the Oireachtas, proposes that all developments should have 10% affordable and 10% social housing as a condition of their approval.

Affordable housing schemes help lower-income households buy their own houses or apartments in new developments at significantly less than their open market value, while social housing is provided by local authorities and housing agencies to those who cannot afford their own accommodation.

The Council meeting, part of the pre-draft stage of forming the Development Plan to run from 2023 to 2029, was to examine the overarching strategies that will inform the draft plan to come before councillors by the end of the year and Cllr McDonnell said a more ambitious target for affordable housing was absolutely necessary.

“It must be included that at least 50% of housing must be affordable [in social housing developments],” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Cllr Eddie Hoare (FG) who questioned if the City Council was ‘tied down’ by national guidelines, or if it could increase the minimum percentage of affordable housing required locally.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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