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Galway motorbike enthusiasts make life or death deliveries

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Emergency voluntary service Blood Bike West has expanded its fleet of motorcycles with the launch of its latest vehicle, ‘Juliet’.

Blood Bike West is a charitable organisation which comprises a number of motorbike enthusiasts who volunteer to provide an emergency out-of-hours free service to the HSE in the West of Ireland.

They collect and delivering all manner of urgent medical items such as bloods, breast milk, medicines, scans, and other urgent medical equipment and supplies from North to South and East to West.

As the charity moves into its third year of operation, demand for its services continues to grow, resulting in a need to add Juliet to the already efficient fleet. Juliet was launched at an event which was hosted at Western Motors in Ballybrit by Mayor of Galway, Cllr Donal Lyons.

“Blood Bike West were a Mayor’s Award Prize winner in 2014 for their services to the community, and we wanted to both thank Galway City for the honour of the award, and have our mayor be involved in the naming ceremony for our latest fleet addition,” explained PRO of Blood Bike West, John Moylan.

Despite its youth, the charity has already adopted a tradition; that is, naming its fleet after people they have engaged with in some special way. Each motorcycle is named after a patient who has been helped by Blood Bike West, or who had a special connection with the charity.

“Our current motorcycle, Sophie, is named after a young lady with whom we have been involved for a few years now, and whose dad, Vincent, is now part and parcel of our entourage, whilst our launch night for the motorcycle, Juliet, has an equally special connection,” said Mr Moylan.

Juliet, a 700cc Honda, is named after baby Juliet Quirke, born in 2014. In the course of the pregnancy, Juliet’s mother was in need of a specialist transfusion before Juliet was born, and as part of that process, Blood Bike West were required to perform a very urgent run of blood samples to Dublin.

The resultant medical care that followed the run ensured that baby Juliet was born healthy to mum Gabriella and dad Alan, thanks to Blood Bike West rider Mick Carty who was on call at the time.

“When we were looking for a name for the bike, we remembered this trip, made enquiries via the hospital and learned the whole Juliet story. So Mam, Dad and Juliet joined us for the formal naming and rollout of our latest steed, and we were delighted to have them with us. We do think it is worth making the connection for us as well as patients and the medics involved,” said Mr Moylan.

Blood Bike West’s mission is to act as an Emergency Rider Voluntary service, which aims to relieve sickness and protect health by providing urgently-needed medical supplies between hospitals and blood transfusion banks.

The charity’s hours of service are 7pm to 7am Monday to Thursday, and the group is on call from 7pm on Friday through to 7am on Monday (24-hour weekend coverage), to ensure nobody goes without urgently-needed supplies over the weekend.

“At times of curtailment of services in health for reasons of resources, the role of charities in general is more important than ever,” said Mr Moylan.

“There is the added social benefit in involving local people in a community effort for the good of those who need our help. And specially-focused charities like Blood Bike West can offer not only relief from the resource issue, but also an opportunity for the required service to improve on that even normally available.

“For example, what Blood Bike West does in particular is allow the clinicians to continue their great work, freed from any undue issue of whether a particular task happens seamlessly in an out-of-hours or emergency situation, just by calling us. As Blood Bike West provides the service free of charge, it allows clinical decisions to be made on a clinical basis, not a logistical one.”

But because the service is voluntary, it relies on help and donations as it grows from strength to strength.

“Funding is the bane of every charity, but a vital one, and we hold events such as our upcoming Bingo night in Athenry on May 22, as well as other events and collections throughout the year,” he said.

The charity also provides a marshalling service for road-based sports events as a way to raise funds, as well has bringing a number of business sponsors on board to help with costs – though they will always welcome more sponsors.

“But we need people. There is more to Blood Bike West than riding a motorcycle. We need committee and volunteer posts filled, controllers, organisers, fundraisers. The act of moving our deliveries on a motorcycle is but a part of it.”

You can make a donation through bloodbikewest.ie or by texting BLOOD to 50300.

CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council turns down Mad Yolk Farm site

Dara Bradley

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An application to retain farming-related development on a site in Roscam has been turned down by Galway City Council.

The local authority has refused to grant retention permission to applicant Brian Dilleen for subsurface piping to be used for agricultural irrigation at ‘Mad Yolk Farm’ on Rosshill Road.

It also refused permission for the retention of a bore-hole well, water pump and concrete plinth; and two water holding tanks for 6,500 litres; and other associated site works.

In its written decision, the Planning Department at City Hall said: “The proposed development, would if permitted, facilitate the use of the site for the provision of sixty 15.5m high seed beds, which have been deemed by the planning authority not to be exempted development.

“Therefore a grant of permission for the proposed development would facilitate the unauthorised development and usage on the site, contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

The site has been the subject of enforcement action by the local authority.

A lengthy Appropriate Assessment Screening report, submitted with the planning application, concluded “beyond reasonable scientific doubt, in view of the best scientific knowledge, on the basis of objective information and in light of the conservation objectives of the relevant European sites, that the proposed retention and development, individually or in combination with other plans and projects, has not and will not have a significant effect on any European site”.

A borehole Impact Assessment Report concluded that the proposed retention development “on the hydraulic properties of the aquifer is considered negligible”.

It said that there was “no potential for significant effects on water quality, groundwater dependent habitats or species associated with any European site”.

Six objections were lodged by neighbours, including one from the Roshill/Roscam Residents Association, which argued the Further Information submitted by the applicant did “little to allay our concerns” about the impact of the development on an “extremely sensitive site”.

The applicant has until June 29 to appeal the decision to An Bórd Pleanála.

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CITY TRIBUNE

NUIG student accommodation firm records loss

Enda Cunningham

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The property company which operates student accommodation on behalf of NUI Galway recorded a €3.4 million increase in turnover in 2019.

However, Atalia Student Residences DAC (Designated Activity Company), which is owned by the university, recorded a loss for the year of €6,300.

Accounts for the company for the year ended August 31, 2019, show that while there was a loss, retained profits are at more than €1.6 million. The accounts are the most up to date available from the Companies Registration Office.

The previous year, the company made a profit of more than €460,000.

Atalia Student Residences operates the 764-bed Corrib Village apartment complex and the 429-bed Goldcrest Village.

The figures show that the company’s overall turnover jumped by 52% – from €6.4m to €9.8m.

Turnover for accommodation services was up from €5.2m to €8.4m; and from conferences and events was up from €850,000 to €1.1m. Turnover from shops was down from almost €328,000 to €290,000.

Outside of the academic year, both complexes are used as accommodation for conference delegates, while Corrib Village is also used for short-term holiday lets.

The accounts show fixed assets – including fixtures and fittings, plant and machinery and office equipment – valued at €1.5m. Its current assets were valued at more than €7m, including ‘cash at bank and in hand’ of almost €6.9m (up from €5.6m last year).

The company owed creditors €6.9m, including €5.2m in deferred income.

It employed 38 people (which includes its five directors) last year, up from 31 the previous year.

As well as operating the student accommodation complexes, the company also markets conference facilities and services on behalf of the university.

It pays rent to NUIG but the figure is not included in the company accounts. In 2018, the rent figure was just over €2.25m.

In Corrib Village, a single bedroom with a private en suite for the academic year costs €5,950. For Goldcrest Village, the figure is €6,760.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Call for two-way cycling under Galway City outdoor dining plan

Dara Bradley

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Bike users want the local authority to examine the introduction of two-way cycling on one-way city centre streets.

Galway Cycling Campaign has again called for cycling to be allowed both ways. It comes as Galway City Council prepares to cordon-off parts of city centre streets to traffic, and make Dominick Street Lower one-way, to facilitate outdoor dining.

The cycling organisation said that the proposed pedestrianisation plan at the Small Crane, and the one-way system on Dominick Street, will result in lengthy diversions for people on bikes.

It has pointed out that school children and their guardians who cycle along Raleigh Row, and turn right towards Sea Road, will probably continue to do so even when the Small Crane is cordoned off to traffic, because the alternative route – via Henry Street – is too long a detour.

Similarly, it has been suggested that food-delivery services on bikes are unlikely to go the ‘long way round’ via Mill Street and New Road to get from Bridge Mills to restaurants on Dominick Street and would be tempted to cycle the ‘wrong way’ down the proposed one-way street or on the footpath.

Shane Foran, committee member of Galway Cycling Campaign, said now would be an ideal time to introduce two-way cycling on some one-way streets.

“It’s not controversial,” insisted Mr Foran. “It’s a general principle in other countries, if you are putting in new traffic arrangements, you would try and keep access for people on bikes.”

The regulation is contained in the National Cycle Policy Framework 2009; and a specific objective was contained in two of the most recent previous City Development Plans.

He said a former minister and Galway West TD, the late Bobby Molloy, had the vision to change the legislation in the late 1990s – but it hasn’t yet been embraced here.

“Bobby Molloy, who couldn’t be classed as an eco warrior, changed the law in 1998, so that it is available to local authorities to put up a sign granting an exemption from restrictions for people cycling on one-way streets.

“The road stays one-way for cars, and two ways for bicycles. Clearly that’s not going to be a sensible to do everywhere, like Merchants’ Road. In those situations, you might need a cycle track or lane to segregate people from traffic.

“But if it’s a low traffic street, with low speeds or relatively lower volumes of cars, then it should be possible for people on bicycles to cycle in both directions and still have it one-way for cars, without it being a major safety issue. It works in other countries,” said Mr Foran.

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