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Connacht Tribune

Galway Gardaí issue warning on Christmas drink driving

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Gardaí in Galway are urging all road users to embrace the ‘SAFE’ message this Christmas – ‘Slow’ down, ‘Abstain’ from alcohol and drugs, ‘Fasten’ seatbelts at all times, and ‘Ensure’ that mobiles are never used while driving.

Supt Noel Kelly – Head of the Garda Regional Roads in the North-West region – said that the goal of the campaign was to get everyone home safely over the holiday season.

“What we want to ensure is that no family has to deal with the grief of having a loved one killed or seriously injured on the roads this Christmas/New-Year period.

“We ask everyone to remember to ensure that any action they might take while using the road network does not result in the loss of life or serious injury to anyone over the coming days and weeks,” said Supt. Kelly.

He also pointed out, that in addition to the death-toll figures on Irish roads, what was sometimes overlooked was the extent of serious injuries suffered by people as a result of collisions.

“Since the recording of serious injuries began in 1977, over 80,000 people have been seriously injured on Irish roads – the devastation caused to these individuals and their families is heart-breaking,” said Supt Kelly.

He also made a special appeal to ‘vulnerable road-users’ – such as cyclists and pedestrians – to ensure that they always wear high-vis clothing but especially so during the hours of darkness.

“Pedestrians need to understand that if they are socialising that they need to make arrangements to get home safely as research shows that alcohol could be in a factor in almost one third of pedestrian deaths.

“Cyclists should also ensure that they have correct lights in good working order – they are obliged at all times to adhere to the rules of the road. But I am asking motorists to always be conscious of pedestrian and cyclist road-users,” said Noel Kelly.

He added that for all drivers, a series of key principles would make a huge contribution to keeping everyone safe on the roads during the holiday season. These are:
■ If undertaking a longer journey, ensure that you are well rested and not feeling tired.
■ Always abide by the speed limits but also slow down when the need arises due to weather/road conditions.
■ Never forget to wear your seat-belts – even on the shortest of journeys – and the same goes for all passengers.
■ ‘Distraction driving’ can have catastrophic consequences – never, ever, be tempted to use a mobile or other device while at the wheel.
■ Never take a chance with driving decisions such as reckless overtaking and be aware of children on the road.
■ Get into the habit of carrying out routine checks on tyres/lighting and always be aware of pedestrians/cyclists.

Gardaí have advised motorists that they will be actively patrolling through the North West region over the holiday period – that includes Galway, Mayo and Roscommon – in both marked and unmarked vehicles.

The Garda operation will consist of Mandatory Intoxicating Testing Checkpoints (for both drugs and alcohol) – both during daylight hours and at night – as well as the use of all speed enforcement technologies.

They have also warned drivers that they will be facing ‘early-morning’ mandatory intoxicant checkpoints on the basis that one in ten alcohol-related fatal collisions occur in the morning after the consumption of alcohol.

“There is no safe level of alcohol you can consume before driving and you take a serious gamble in trying to guess how much would still keep you under the limit for driving,” said Supt Kelly.

Connacht Tribune

Wave goodbye to City Bypass as long as Greens are in Government

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An artist's impression of proposed Galway Ring Road.

PEOPLE in the West of Ireland should not be ‘fooled’ into thinking that vital infrastructure projects like the Galway City Bypass will get the go-ahead while Eamon Ryan remains in charge of Environment, a former Fianna Fail Minister and West Galway TD has warned this week.

That’s despite Tánaiste Leo Varadkar re-iterating on Galway Bay FM this week that the funding for the project has already been allocated – although he admitted that planning was the final hurdle.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív told the Connacht Tribune that the proposed bypass of Galway city, which has a Bord Pleanála decision due by November 19 next, would end up being choked under the headings of ‘carbon proofing and carbon rating’.

“Make no mistake about it but the word on the ground that’s filtering through to local Green Party representatives is that this project will not go ahead, and will be stopped because of carbon-proofing regulations.

“This is no red herring – over the years, I’ve seen so many road projects in Connemara that were given the go-ahead in principle but have never happened because of so-called processes and procedures,” said Éamon Ó Cuív.

However, he pledged that the six Fianna Fáil representatives across Connacht, would fight ‘tooth and nail’ not to see the West ‘left behind’ with roads projects that were vital for the future of the province.

“We will be meeting directly with Taoiseach, Micheál Martin on Wednesday next [October 20] to stress the importance of a number of roads projects across the West of Ireland, including the Galway City Bypass.

“And I would also stress that we are committed fully to environmental and carbon reduction measures, but the way to do this is not by preventing people in the West of Ireland from using their cars – the cars aren’t the problem – it’s the fuel that’s used to power them,” said Deputy Ó Cuív.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Connemara coffee couple are now well grounded!

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Aoife Geary and James Elcock on their opening day, with their first customers - and landlords - Roundstone natives Michael John and Catherine Ferrons, sitting outside.

Aoife Geary always felt like one of the locals in Carna. Even though her parents were living in Galway City, she was largely raised by her granny and grandad Barbara and Coleman Geary. Her first job as a 13-year-old was in the local shop in the Connemara village.

“I know it sounds a bit romantic, but I felt like I was raised by the community, not just in the community. I knew everybody in the shop and everybody knew me,” she reflects.

So, when London was about to go into the first lockdown in March 2020, she and husband James Elcock made a split decision to hop on a flight to Galway armed with two carry-on suitcases.

“Granny was terminally ill with cancer, and I wanted to help out with her care and I was worried we wouldn’t be able to travel. Little did we think we weren’t going to leave.”

Aoife was the live entertainment manager for billionaire Richard Branson’s private members club called Roof Gardens in Kensington while James, a native of Shropshire, was running a restaurant in the bank area of London. She had lived in London since 2013, her husband four years longer.

When he was made redundant, he bought himself a vintage sewing machine in Castlebar and taught himself to use it in an afternoon, setting up his first Irish business making and selling cotton face masks.

They then realised that a takeaway unit in Roundstone had become free, which was overlooking the picturesque pier and with views of the Twelve Bens. They opened My Coffee Cottage in mid-August and business was brisk from the get-go.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Budget’s grant break for college commuters

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NUI Galway.

Grants for some third level students living in certain parts of County Galway, who attend college in the city, could more than double as a result of changes in Budget 2022.

Undergraduates and students on post leaving cert courses living in areas such as Tuam, Loughrea and An Cheathrú Rua will all benefit from an adjustment to the eligibility to the non-adjacent rate for maintenance grants.  Some could get a grant boost of €1,800 next year due to the changes announced in the Budget.

People eligible for a maintenance grant are paid at either a non-adjacent rate or an adjacent rate – determined by measuring the distance of the shortest direct route from your normal residence to college.

Currently, the adjacent rate – which is lower – is paid when your college is 45km or less from where you live. The higher non-adjacent rate is paid when the college is more than 45km away from an eligible student’s home. The non-adjacent rate has been adjusted in Budget 2022 to include 30km to 45km.

This means that eligibility for the non-adjacent rate has been widened, and many students who were previously on the adjacent rate may now be eligible for a higher non-adjacent rate. It means that third level students living in Tuam, Loughrea and An Cheathrú could be eligible for the higher non-adjacent rate next September.

Get the full details on this and the impact of Budget 2022 in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now – or you can download our digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie

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