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CITY TRIBUNE

Garda chief doesn’t have the resources to tackle open-air drinking

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Galway’s Garda Chief has said the sustainability of increased checks for public drinking in the Spanish Arch is under threat due to a lack of resources and a cut in the availability of overtime hours.

Speaking to a meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Chief Superintendent Tom Curley of the Galway Garda Division said that he was unsure if the current increase in patrols was sustainable.

Since a clampdown on ‘bushing’ in the Spanish Arch began this season, Gardaí have issued 60 fines – with those caught slapped with a €100 fine.

However, Chief Supt Curley said that their increased patrols had been a costly exercise with the already overstretched Galway Division having to fork out close to €15,000 in overtime since March of this year.

“As we go forward, it is going to be difficult for me to sustain that costing as I try to prioritise policing issues – as of late last week, our overtime budget has been cut.

“There has been a reduction of 30 per cent in our overtime budget.

“I have limited resources and I have to police the whole city and county,” he said.

He added that this was not a one-person job and it required a Sergeant and four to five Gardaí to carry out the checks.

Chief Supt Curley said that public drinking increased the risk of accidental drowning and called for the recommendations in the recent audit of Galway’s waterways to be implemented.

As revealed by the Galway City Tribune earlier this month, the report claims erecting physical barriers in areas like the Spanish Arch could prevent accidental drowning – a measure that Chief Supt Curley said he has been in favour of for years.

“When I was Superintendent here in 2010, we raised that railings could be put up to stop revellers straying into the river.

“The response was that railings would damage the natural beauty of the area, but I would rather save one life at the cost of natural beauty – the Spanish Arch is a tragedy waiting to happen,” he said.

Senior Executive Officer at Galway City Council, Gary McMahon, said that the officials in City Hall are currently considering the report.

“I will acknowledge that it is a possible accident waiting to happen.

“When there is an organised event, measures are put in place but it is impromptu events when the sun comes out that issues arise,” he said.

Galway City Councillor, Niall McNelis, said that signage that has been erected is failing to inform people of the illegality of public drinking.

“The signage Galway City Council has put up is useless. There have been 60 fines issued by the Gardaí but no fines by the community wardens – the community wardens are non-existent in public areas.

“All that is needed is an icon of a bottle with a line going through it and a €100 fine,” said Cllr McNelis.

Chief Supt Curley agreed that the signage is not working and that more will be needed to combat the problem.

“We have written to the City Council in relation to more signage because a lot of tourists were unaware that they couldn’t drink down there,” he said.

Mr McMahon told the JPC that the problem of poor signage will be examined by the local authority.

“The issue in relation to signage – the joint City Council and Garda signs – we’ll have a look at that.

“I commend the Gardaí for the work they are doing in the Spanish Arch and Basin area. A lot of people weren’t aware that they weren’t allowed to drink a bag of cans in the Spanish Arch,” said Mr McMahon.

CITY TRIBUNE

Whopping repayments for City Hall’s move

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Council Chief Executive, Brendan McGrath: Responding to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the Council suggested that senior management at City Hall did not meet with the owner of Crown Square in Mervue in the year before the loan approval for the purchase of the new offices there. If they did meet, no minutes exist.

The total cost to repay the loan required to execute Galway City Council’s planned purchase of new offices to accommodate a move from City Hall will be €63.1 million, the Galway City Tribune has learned.

It means the City Council will have to find €2m every year for 30 years in its own revenue budget to repay the mortgage, which could impact on the level of service it delivers to the public or may require an increase in charges or commercial rates.

Separately, a Council reply to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request suggests senior management at City Hall did not meet with the owner of Crown Square in Mervue in the year prior to the loan approval for the purchase of the new offices – and if they did meet, no minutes exist.

In its loan sanction application form, submitted to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the City Council applied for permission to borrow €45.4 million.

This is to cover the bulk of the cost of the €56.5m total capital outlay associated with moving from City Hall and relocating all Galway City Council employees from College Road to the new Crown Square offices in Mervue.

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

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CITY TRIBUNE

Hunt on for new courthouse to tackle explosion in cases

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Galway Courthouse: Limited facilities there make it difficult to clear lengthy Circuit Court lists.

The Courts Service is scouring the city for rental property to accommodate Galway Courthouse.

Commercial real estate advisors, Avison Young have been hired to source suitable property in the city centre.

The company published an advert in Galway City Tribune last week outlining the Courts Service’s property requirement of suitable commercial or office space of 1,800-2,000 metres squared.

Avison Young said the space should be in the city centre and be available to lease.

On-site parking is required, and it needs to be available for “immediate occupation”.

The move comes after the Galway City Tribune revealed earlier this month that victims of serious crime are waiting up to three years for justice because Galway’s limited court facilities make it difficult to clear lengthy Circuit Court lists.

Due to an explosion in the number of cases sent for trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court, the wait for a trial date is between 24 and 36 months.

The Courts Service confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was looking for a new courthouse and office space facilities.

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

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

Stars align as Teapots finally stage Into the Dark Woods

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Blue Teapot director Petal Pilley with cast members Michael Hayes and Valerie Egan ahead of the show.

Into the Dark Woods

Blue Teapot at the Black Box

REVIEW BY JUDY MURPHY

After several false dawns, Blue Teapot Theatre Company finally got to stage its long-awaited drama, Into the Dark Woods, in the city’s Black Box Theatre last week. A Galway 2020 commission, and written by company member Charlene Kelly, it was originally meant to be presented more than two years ago.

Blue Teapot is made up of actors with intellectual disabilities and Charlene is one of its best-known performers, but this marked her first foray into writing, supported by dramaturg Eileen Gibbons. The production, directed by the company’s Artistic Director Petal Pilley, has done her proud.

It’s a short, moving, sometimes humorous piece about two young people with intellectual disabilities from very different backgrounds, who get lost in the woods where they are confronted by various demons and monsters.

Jennifer Cox plays Sharon whose grandmother (Mary Monaghan-McHugh) has taught her to be independent and outward looking, while Kieran Coppinger is a prince who has been cocooned in a nearby castle by his father (Midie Corcoran), a king who feels his son isn’t capable of inheriting the throne.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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