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Galway scientists study the air that we breathe

Denise McNamara

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Galway scientists are leading a new study which will definitively point the finger at the greatest source of air pollution – which could result in a massive transformation in how we heat our homes.

Alarming statistics which have emerged in the past few months are not telling the whole story about Galway’s air quality, believes NUIG researcher Dr Darius Ceburnis.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Galway is one of a dozen cities and towns in Ireland and Britain that breach WHO safety levels for air pollution. Only Longford and Bray had higher levels of ‘particulate matter’ than Galway, which was worse than even Dublin.

The safe limit for Particulate Matter is PM10, but Galway scores PM17, according to WHO. A report out last month by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that approximately 1,200 people die prematurely in Ireland every year as a result of air pollution.

However, these figures do not break down the source of the particulates, explained Darius, who works in NUIG’s physics department.

“When it comes to Galway and specifically the West of Ireland, we are exposed to the Altantic and a lot of sea salt particles. Sea salt is benign, once it gets into humans it dissolves, so while it might make up the mass of particulates it’s not a polluting one so the figures are misleading.”

The study found that the worst for producing particulates or pollution is wood, the next worst is peat – regardless if it was sods or briquettes and the third worst was coal.

Second to natural gas – and best for air quality – was electric heating – and this was better for the environment if it was generated by renewables. Oil was the third least polluting – albeit it ten times worse than gas.

“This information is important for people who care about the environment when choosing what kind of fuel they should choose for their homes,” the scientist states.

For more on the study, see this week’s Galway City Tribune

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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