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Connacht Tribune

Galway still sits on top of multinationals’ wishlists

Enda Cunningham

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Galway continues to be the preferred base for global companies investing in Ireland because it meets their ‘rigorous criteria’, according to IDA Ireland.

And with Galway’s reputation as the ‘location of choice’ for such companies being boosted over the past year, the IDA is optimistic that further Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) will be attracted in 2019.

New arrivals to Galway and existing companies undergoing expansion here saw the announcement of 775 new jobs in 2018.

And a further positivity indicator is that Government figures show there were a total of 42 IDA-sponsored site visits to County Galway by potential investors up to the end of September 2018 (which is the most up-to-date figure available).

The counties with more site visits were Dublin (209 for the same period) and Cork at 45. The next highest numbers of visits on the list were Limerick at 25 and Westmeath at 18.

The IDA’s Regional Business Development Manager for the West Region, Catherina Blewitt, said: “It’s been an extremely positive year again for Galway, and particularly Galway City, in terms of FDI.

“Galway’s reputation as a location of choice for global companies grew in 2018 with the arrival of companies like Genesys, Quidel and SOTI Inc and expansions announced by established companies Wayfair, MathWorks and Mazars.

“Galway has delivered expansions and also announced new investment this year.

“It’s proof that new companies continue to see Galway as an excellent location while it’s a vote of confidence and commitment to Galway and testament to the success of their operations here from established companies.

“We have shown that we can meet the rigorous criteria required by global companies seeking to invest in Ireland; we have the skilled workers, connectivity, excellent third-level institutes and the required level of infrastructure and services they look to for a pipeline of skills, coupled with a robust and supportive business culture.

“Our collaboration with other stakeholders continued in 2018, we supported the development of new infrastructure such as the N6 Galway Ring Road, developments like the Bonham Quay project and other planned commercial developments currently in the planning process such as those proposed for Ballybane and Mervue.

“We also supported projects for Galway that received funding under the Rural and Urban Regeneration funding announced recently; the Portershed, Nuns Island, Sandy Road and infrastructure upgrades on the east of the city.

“For our part, in providing the necessary property solutions to attract investment, we have recently completed construction of a new Advance Office Building of 45,000 square foot in Parkmore, delivered through the PPP (Public Private Partnership) model.

“Planning permission for an Advance Building Solution in Parkmore, was recently secured from Galway County Council and is currently going through the tender process. IDA also works closely with the private sector to secure the provision of appropriate and cost-effective solutions suitable for FDI clients. We look forward to continuing our progress in 2019,” said Ms Blewitt.

Silicon Valley tech firm Genesys announced in November that it would create 200 new technology jobs in Galway over three years, making it one of the largest artificial intelligence development centres in Ireland.

Ms Blewitt said: “In October, the mobile and ‘Internet of Things’ device management solutions company SOTI Inc. reinforced its commitment to growing its Ireland operations as a European tech hub with the announcement of its new Galway office. Fifty new jobs are being created immediately with a further 100 to be created over the next three years.

“The Quidel Corporation, a provider of rapid diagnostic testing solutions and molecular diagnostic systems, announced plans in February to set up operations in Galway, creating 75 jobs over five years. It’s the company’s first expansion into international facilities. In June the company officially opened its new Business Service Centre.”

She said that growth in existing companies came from online home furnishings retailer Wayfair; MathWorks, a developer of mathematical computing software for engineers and scientists and in the audit, tax and advisory firm Mazars.

“Supporting our existing companies to grow and develop is a key focus for us. Wayfair celebrated the 10th anniversary of its multi-lingual European Operations Centre in Galway with news that it is to expand its workforce across the country through the launch of a virtual 200 strong workforce.

“MathWorks, which established a shared sales and services centre in Galway in 2016 announced in recent days that it is to hire an additional 70 people.

“Mazars officially opened its new Galway office and announced its intention to create up to 30 new jobs over a three-year period, doubling the office headcount,” she said,

Ms Blewitt also pointed to other success stories in Galway which are supported by IDA Ireland.

“One great example is Thermo King Ingersoll Rand, who manufacture refrigeration and heating units for the transport sector. They employ 680 people. They recently invested €50m in an expansion of their plant to increase capacity and, as a result, are currently recruiting for 50 new engineering roles. “They are a really innovative company and are leading the way in technology and robotics, growing their automation skills at the plant.”

Elsewhere in the county, she said, “our client base has performed well in terms of their operational sustainability, job retention and we continue to work closely with them, supporting them in their transformation and development”.

Connacht Tribune

Packed like sardines in Salthill and only 200 allowed gather at a game

John McIntyre

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John McIntyre

Inside Track with John McIntyre – sports@ctribune.ie

IN a moment of madness, I decided to take a cycle out to Salthill last Saturday. By the time I got to the Blackrock Diving Tower, I thought I had just come through Torremolinos or one of those sun hot spots on the Costa Del Sol. There were cars and people everywhere.

The first inkling that Salthill would be heaving came when there was a traffic-jam halfway back the Lough Atalia Road leading to the Docks. Such were the number of cars, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Pearse Stadium was hosting a Connacht football final that afternoon.

If the people of Offaly, Laois and Kildare – all currently under partial Covid-19 lockdown – could see the carefree holiday mood in one of the West’s favourite tourist attractions, they’d be wondering had they stumbled on a parallel universe.

As readers will know from previous columns, I have a jaundiced view of NPHET and the Government’s cautious approach to relaxing the coronavirus restrictions. The scaremongering continues at frightening levels and many people are living in a climate of fear – though few of them were in Salthill.

NPHET must be immune to what’s really happening on the ground. If it thinks that there is widespread compliance, the group is living in cloud cuckoo land. All over Ireland’s favourite tourist attractions, there are thousands of holiday makers with little or no observance of social distancing.

My frustration over this scenario is fuelled by the way sport and its followers have been so badly compromised by the Covid-19 restrictions. My club Lorrha was playing in the Tipperary hurling championship last Friday evening and many of our diehard supporters couldn’t get a ticket to the match.

It’s the same in every GAA parish. So much unnecessary agitation and frustration. On Sunday evening, reporting duties took me to Ballinasloe for an attractive derby clash between Tommy Larkins and Tynagh/Abbey-Duniry. In a nutshell, there was nearly as many people inside as outside the wire. The ‘gathering’ limit of 200 annoyingly remains, especially in the context of the throngs in places like Salthill.

NPHET have justified not increasing crowd limits to beyond 200 over fears that people will congregate afterwards and the assumption that individuals from different families are travelling together in the one car. Frankly, it’s a load of nonsense and just irrational justification for not being prepared to compromise.

Of course, if the Government had any backbone instead of acting like a lapdog, it would never have come to this. I am fed up of hearing the line, in the interests of ‘public health’, as if people are dying from nothing else other than the coronavirus. The reality is that there have only been a handful of fatalities from the disease over the past fortnight. In the same period, how many have passed away from cancer and cardiac issues when their standard of care wasn’t what it should have been due to the fixation with Covid-19 over the past four months?

There’s now a genuine health and safety issue at play as well in relation to sporting fixtures. We have all images of fans hanging off trees and ladders, and others on rust-laden roofs, in their desperation to support their local teams. Furthermore, does NPHET have any idea what their draconian approach is doing to the mental health of some people?

There was no justification for stopping sporting activity in Laois, Offaly and Kildare last Friday. Locking down the affected towns where there was a surge of new infections in local meat processing plants would have made more sense. There have been no clusters spread through sport so why should codes like GAA and soccer be punished?

We all appreciate that the virus hasn’t gone away and there is an obligation on all of us to act responsibly, but only making the use of masks compulsory for most indoor settings from last Monday takes the biscuit altogether. Why has it taken so long? The pandemic has been with us since last March and only now is this measure deemed appropriate.

Over the past few weeks, I have observed individuals wearing masks travelling alone in cars, while cycling, and outdoors where there’s hardly a sinner in sight. What’s that all about? It’s not as if you can pass on the virus to yourself! Horse racing is going to extremes altogether. Now everybody at a meeting has to wear a mask outdoors. Suffice to say, they all look ridiculous walking around in what is the equivalent of big open fields.

I have absolutely no issue with our civil liberties being compromised in the ongoing quest to supress the virus, but logic is being repeatedly thrown out the window. NPHET’s ‘one size fits all’ approach must be urgently reviewed and the Government needs to stand back and make up its own mind about what activity constitutes genuine risk.

Though I believe the horse has long since bolted when it comes to wearing masks in indoor centres, I am willingly obeying the rule while as team manager of Lorrha, all our players have their temperatures checked before each training session; there are hand santisers supplied; and the training props are disinfected.

The primary focus should be on sorting out meat processing plants and the direct provision centres, while travel in and out of the country ought to be restricted to emergencies or on compassionate grounds. House parties also need to be clamped down on. Everything else is hardly worth a hill of beans in tackling this pandemic.

Keeping gatherings at 200 and not allowing pubs to reopen are soft targets. I am not proposing anarchy or anything like that, but the powers that be need to wise up and concentrate their efforts on the places where outbreaks of the virus are occurring. Everything else is just window dressing.

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Connacht Tribune

Old mills set for new life as distillery

Declan Tierney

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An artist's impression of the new distillery.

An old corn mill in East Galway is set to be transformed into a €6 million whiskey and gin manufacturing distillery – once planning permission has been granted for the development.

And if approved, the distillery has the potential to create more than 15 new jobs directly in the village of Ahascragh, providing a huge economic boost to the area – and rescuing the old corn mill which ceased operation in the 1950s.

A planning application for the new brewery has just been submitted by Gareth and Michelle McAllister of McAllister Distillers in North Dublin, with a decision due before the end of the year.

Gareth McAllister told The Connacht Tribune that he intended to renovate the old building while retaining some of the old features such as a mill wheel, and utilise the stream that runs through the property.

The complex, as well as producing various styles of Irish whiskey and gin, will also include a visitor centre, rooms for hospitality events, a retail shop and cafe.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also purchase a digital edition here.

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Connacht Tribune

Wait is over for frontman’s first solo venture

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John Martin Tierney

Multi-instrumentalist John Martin Tierney has been a recognisable face on Galway’s music scene for several years – but up to now, largely as the focal point in a band setting.  Comfortable operating as both energetic frontman and rhythm-setting guitarist, he has featured in an array of impressive local outfits; most notably, his work with Dead Horse Jive has seen the five-piece develop into one of the city’s top live acts.

But with all of that experience in a collaborative setting, John’s solo work has sometimes been put to the side.

That’s about to change – if just temporarily – as John releases his debut single, I Will Wait, this Friday; a three-and-a-half-minute ballad, the song incorporates piano and acoustic guitar more than much of his band work has done.

Though the track has existed in some form for a long time, its subject matter was particularly pertinent over lockdown.

“Around the start of June, I started properly putting energy into something that would have an end product,” John recalls.

“I wanted something I could be proud of, even if I wasn’t going to release it while lockd I Will Waitown was going on. I had an earlier version of it but I was never happy with it. I started rewriting it in about May or June.

“It kind of talks about missing people that you love. It’s from the point of view of not being able to see someone physically because of whatever restrictions are in place. That’s where it came from anyway and I think it translates well… I hope it does.”

For full interview, read the Groove Tube in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in all shops now – or purchase the digital edition; full details on this website.

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