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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway Races celebrating 150th with big future plans

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Approval of planning permission for a €14 million redevelopment of Ballybrit Racecourse provided the perfect birthday present for the Galway Races – as the 150th running of Ireland’s largest horse racing festival hits top gear.

City Council planners this week approved the new development, including a spectator amphitheatre, bars, restaurants, courtyard, new parade ring and a refurbishment of part of the Millennium Grandstand.

Racecourse manager Michael Moloney told the Galway City Tribune that once the festival concludes on Sunday, attention will turn to securing funding.

“It’s a great occasion to have received the news, in the middle of Race Week. It’s a huge development planned. We’ve been working on it for the guts of two years. It’s going to change the racecourse, and is probably the biggest change we’ve had since the Killannin Stand (opened 2007). It will change how the racecourse operates, particularly from an equine point of view.

“A new pre-parade ring and parade ring and access onto the track and returning horses; it’s going to change that and improve the customer experience.

“It’s all about bringing the horses, jockeys and trainers closer to the people, and bringing more interaction on race day. It’s real positive news,” he said.

Mr Moloney said it “will take a couple of years before we see it come to fruition on site” but getting planning was “a big hurdle to jump”.

The next stage is applying for funding from Horse Racing Ireland, and if successful, the revamped racecourse could be ready in 2021 or 2022, he said.

Racing got off to the flyer on Monday with attendances up around 200 to 20,397. Among those present was An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, who, along with Galway Race Committee chairman, Peter Allen, officially unveiled a bespoke life-size piece of art, Leading the Winner, by renowned Irish sculptor John Behan, to celebrate the 150-year milestone.

Jody Townend provided the fairy-tale in Monday’s feature, when saddling Great White Shark to victory in the Connacht Hotel Handicap for Willie Mullins.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Gardaí raid cocaine lab in Galway City

Enda Cunningham

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Some of the cash and drugs seized by Gardaí in Galway

Two men have been arrested following a Garda raid in which a cocaine laboratory was discovered in Galway City.

In total, Gardaí seized €178,500 in cash, €50,000 worth of cocaine (subject to analysis) and a number of drug manufacturing components as part of an intelligence-led operation into the sale and supply of drugs in the Galway Garda Division.

At 7.40pm yesterday (Sunday) the Divisional Drugs Unit in Galway stopped and searched a car on the M6 motorway in the vicinity of Loughrea where €17,580 worth of cash was seized.

As part of a follow-up search, Gardaí uncovered what is believed to be a cocaine processing laboratory and seized cocaine (pending analysis) with an estimated value of €50,000 at an address in Galway City.

At this address, Gardaí seized a quantity of mixing agent, a cocaine press, vacuum packer, industrial gas masks, and a cash counting machine, which are believed to have been used in the manufacture of cocaine for sale or supply.

In a further follow-up search, Gardaí seized €161,000 in cash at a separate premises in the city.

One man in his 20s was arrested following the detection on the M6, while a second man in his 30s was arrested at a property in Galway City.

Both men are currently detained at Galway Garda Station under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drugs Trafficking) Act 1996.

These seizures were part of an intelligence led operation and were detected by the Galway Divisional Drugs Unit with the assistance of the Western Regional Armed Support Unit.

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CITY TRIBUNE

“It will be akin to the notorious Rahoon flats”

Enda Cunningham

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The Rahoon flats, which were built in 1972 and demolished in 1998, widely regarded as a failed social housing project.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – More than 700 local residents have signed a petition against plans for the construction of 330 apartments in Knocknacarra – which have been likened to “the notorious Rahoon flats”.

Child safeguarding concerns have also been raised by the principal of Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh – who pointed out that the apartments will look directly into 19 classrooms.

A total of 27 objections were lodged against Glenveagh Living’s plans to build 332 apartments in six blocks – ranging from four storeys to seven storeys in height.

Locals have demanded An Bord Pleanála hold an oral hearing into the plans – that planning authority is due to make a decision by March 20, although it can decide to hold such a hearing first.

A computer-generated image of the Glenveagh plans for the site opposite Gort na Bró and beside Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh.

One of the objections – which accuses the developer of designing “tenement style” homes in a “blatant attempt to profiteer from the housing crisis” – was signed by more than 700 local residents.

Another objector said the development was “akin to the notorious Rahoon flats, with people being packed on top of each other”.

Locals have raised concerns about the huge number of apartments planned; overshadowing of homes; inadequate open space, playing pitches and community infrastructure; parking and traffic problems; low quality of design and road safety.

Glenveagh Living did not respond to a request from the Galway City Tribune for comment.
This is a preview only. To read extensive coverage of the Glenveagh plans and objections, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Arts fraternity rallies as Theo faces deportation

Denise McNamara

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Less than a year after being invited by the Arts Council to perform at a conference about diversity in the arts, a musician, DJ and rapper – who is about to embark on a project for Galway 2020 – is facing deportation.

Theophilus Ndlovu left Zimbabwe after what he claims was a lifetime of abuse at the hands of the people who were supposed to mind him.

His mother left when he was just six years old and he never met his father. He was placed in the care of an unofficial foster family but it was never a happy arrangement.

“These people I stayed with were abusing me. They were never my family. I was running away from persecution and abuse and the way I was treated by these people. I had to fend for myself since I was ten years old,” he recalls.

When Theo was 20, he saved up enough money from mowing lawns and selling chickens to escape, arriving in Ireland where he sought asylum. Authorities placed him in a Direct Provision Centre in Finglas for a fortnight before he was transferred to the Great Western Direct Provision Centre off Eyre Square, where he has remained for nearly four years.

Almost immediately, Theo felt at home.

“This is my family. Galway is where I found my voice. It has become my home. It is just where I’m meant to be.”

Theo has immersed himself in the arts community and has become a leading hip-hop artist, known as Touché, performing regularly at venues such as the Róisín Dubh and the Black Gate. He was instrumental in getting fellow asylum seekers and refugees involved in music collaborations.

He is a founding member of the multicultural music project ‘Atmos Collective’ and has facilitated numerous music workshops in Galway, “teaching, motivating and inspiring hundreds of young people along the way”, according to co-founder Alice McDowell, an Australian filmmaker and fiddler.

The collective was recently granted funding by the Galway European Capital of Culture 2020 committee to host community music workshops in the city and county over the next year as part of their ‘Small Towns Big Ideas’ scheme.
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.

The petition is available online HERE

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