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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

Voluntary group has taken part in 30 rescues

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Members of Claddagh Watch, Donna Burke, Annmarie Heffernan, Arthur Carr, Jimmy McGovern, Eimear Gullane and Trish Keogh on their first night on patrol in March.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Looking out over the River Corrib on a cold clear November night has a touch of the majestic about it.

Tourists and locals alike are spellbound by its mesmerising rapids and the pulsating surges which characterise this wonderful city river.

However, a group of volunteers at Claddagh watch over the glistening waters at night for an entirely different reason – not to marvel at its beauty but to keep a much-needed eye over people’s safety in the Corrib’s surrounds.

Just over eight months after its inception, Claddagh Watch is going from strength to strength. Starting out as a three-man crew in Spring, the organisation now has a 60-person team of volunteers dedicated to keeping people out of danger around Europe’s fourth fastest-flowing city river.

The group was formed by husband-and-wife team Arthur and Deborah Carr from Galway East Life Support Suicide prevention group, along with a former member of the Irish Coast Guard Séamus Ó Fátharta, following a series of deaths along Galway waterways early in the year.

“Claddagh Watch came to fruition from three ordinary people seeing the number of people losing their lives on the waterways and realising that a simple initiative could help reduce this,” explains Séamus of the motivation behind the group.

Since March, the organisation has taken part in almost 30 rescues, aimed at preventing people entering the water. Volunteers never enter the water themselves, even in emergency situations but are instead on hand to notify and provide vital information to rescue services as soon as an incident occurs.
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CITY TRIBUNE

Rents and rise in costs driving students to seek counselling

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A painful rental market and increasing costs being loaded onto third level students are all contributing to increasing demand on student counselling services, according to Galway’s student leader.

President of NUI Galway Students’ Union, Clare Austick, said additional funding must be allocated to student counselling services at NUI Galway to ensure students in need of help are not turned away.

This comes after it was revealed that there had been a 21% jump in the number of students at the university seeking the support of the counselling service over the past four years.

Ms Austick said the Union of Students in Ireland, in conjunction with national mental health bodies, had run several campaigns in recent years to encourage an uptake of mental wellbeing supports on offer – but it was vital that these supports were accessible if students did take that initial step of seeking help.

“Encouraging people to reach out has resulted in an influx of people looking for counselling services and I think people are now more willing to ask for help.

“When someone finally builds up the courage to reach out for help and they’re turned away, it’s very discouraging and it might not encourage them to do it again,” said Ms Austick.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council boosts spend on homelessness

Denise McNamara

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A homeless man sleeping in the city centre.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A record €12 million boost to the coffers has meant that Galway City Council’s budget will reach nearly €100 million for next year – with the bulk of the increased spending targeting homelessness and housing.

A third of the overall budget has been ringfenced for accommodation for the homeless and local authority tenants costing over €33m; with a €4.3m increase on last year to provide homeless services (to €10.7m).

An additional fund of €200,000 will be used to turn around the 44 vacant Council properties to ensure the local authority has no more than 10 properties ‘void’ at a time – a figure which other councils have managed to achieve.

One fifth of the budget will be earmarked for recreation and amenity, of which €2.8m will be used to roll out the European Capital of Culture programme and a quarter of a million euro set aside to resurface tennis and basketball courts around the suburbs.

The roads and transport sector takes up 15% of the yearly spend at €14.5m – more traffic lights will be connected to the Urban Traffic Control Centre, set to get an upgrade costing €100,000.

The cost of providing environmental services is €12m – or 12% of the funding pot – out of which €90,000 will be aimed at implementing a climate change plan.

Acting Head of Finance, Nepta Moggan, told a budget meeting this week that while there was no increase in the rate to be levied on businesses for commercial rates or householders liable for the Local Property Tax, the Council had an €800,000 bonus from increased and new valuations of commercial premises.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.

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