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Gardaí warn of Christmas checkpoints crackdown

Francis Farragher

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Galway Gardai have asked motorist to abide by ‘The Six Commandments’ this Christmas . . . and in the process take a giant step towards avoiding road deaths over the holiday period.

Booze, speed, seat-belts, distractions, careless behaviour and proper lighting need to be ticked-off by motorists as everyone gears up for the Christmas and New Year season.

So far this year, nine people have lost their lives on Galway roads while the fatality figure for Mayo in 2015 stands at 12 – Gardai have appealed for this figure not to increase over the coming weeks.

Between now and January 6 next, over 60 checkpoints a day will be carried out across the Western Garda Division of Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Clare and Longford.

Gardai have also ‘put it on the line’ to ‘morning after’ drivers who chance going behind the wheel with alcohol still in their system from the night before.

“This year, there is a morning element to a percentage of those checkpoints focusing on drink driving. Also as part of the campaign, large urban towns will be given special attention on weekend nights,” said Supt. Noel Kelly, Western Regional Traffic Superintendent.

According to drinkaware.ie, on average, it takes one hour for the body to rid itself of one unit of alcohol i.e. a half pint of beer, a small glass of wine or a standards spirits measure.

“No amount of black coffee or cold showers or even a ‘Full Irish’ [breakfast] can speed up your body’s ability to eliminate alcohol,” drinkaware.ie state.

The blood alcohol limit is now just 50mgs. of alcohol per 100mls. of blood or 22 microgrammes of alcohol per 100mls. of breath [intoxalyser] or 67mgs. of alcohol per 100mls. of urine.

For professional or learner drivers the figures are reduced even further – 20mgs. of alcohol per 100mls. of blood; 9mgs. of alcohol per 100mls. of breath and 27mgs. of alcohol per 100mls. of urine.

“So, it has never been more important for drivers to ‘aim for zero’ the morning after. Even if you haven’t had a drink since last night, you may still be unfit to drive,” state drinkaware.ie .

Gardai, along with the Road Safety Authority (RSA), are also involved in a strong campaign this year to tackle the problem of fatigue driving – often common in the run-up to Bank Holiday weekends or the Christmas holiday period.

“It is estimated that driver fatigue has been a contributory factor in as many as one in five driver deaths each year in Ireland. Such collisions usually end up having a direct input on drivers, passengers, other road users and pedestrians,” said Supt. Noel Kelly.

The RSA have asked drivers to factor in breaks into their journeys, especially if travelling with children.

“Ensure that you are rested before commencing a journey and if feeling tired, pull over, take a 15-20 minute nap followed up by a cup of coffee and some fresh air.

“Remember, don’t try and fight sleep at the wheel. Turning up the radio or opening the window will not cure tiredness. The only cure is rest and sleep,” the RSA advise.

The Gardai have also made a plea to motorists to get out of the habit of going near their mobile phones while driving, but so far the practice shows no sign of abating – in December 2014, Gardai ‘pulled over’ 237 motorists for using their mobiles while at the wheel.

Gardai have urged all other road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, to as ‘a matter of course’ wear high-vis vests or jackets as well as being properly ‘lit up’.

“We wish all road users a safe and Happy Christmas and New Year. We ask everyone to remember to ensure any action they might take while using the roads does not result in the loss of a life or serious injury to anyone.

“The message for this holiday period is to drive with caution, slow down, don’t drink and drive and always wear your seatbelt,” said Supt. Noel Kelly.

CITY TRIBUNE

Residents call in the clampers to sort problem parking

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Residents in a Salthill estate have become tired of illegal parking outside their homes – and hired private clampers as a deterrent.

People living in Seamount off Threadneedle Road near Blackrock said they have been plagued by extra traffic and vehicles parking outside their homes, blocking access, during the latest Covid lockdown.

They said that since Galway City Council closed off the Prom to car parking, and closed the two public carparks, the cars have just migrated to Threadneedle Road and their estate.

Seamount is a private estate and the road has not been taken in charge by the Council. The residents have clubbed together and hired a clamping company, which will erect signs in the coming days and begin clamping illegally parked cars from next week.

Residents said they are also concerned that cars parked on Threadneedle Road are making it more difficult for buses to pass, and cause congestion.

A residents’ spokesperson said: “Since the lockdown, they closed off the Prom and closed off Salthill car park but people are still using the Prom and swimming off Blackrock. I have huge admiration for the swimmers, I do it myself when it’s warmer. But what’s happening is they park on both sides of Threadneedle Road, because there’re no yellow lines on either side of it and it’s not wide enough for cars to be parked either side of it, so buses are getting stuck.”
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

NUIG President’s upset at Covid breaches on campus

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – “I work in the hospital and we have had a really awful six weeks. We have nowhere to sit down and have our breaks. We are exhausted and would long to see family and friends. To see public health guidelines [being flouted] on NUIG property is a kick in the teeth.”

These are the words of an angry and frustrated healthcare worker at University Hospital Galway in a message sent to the head of NUIG.

President Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh told students and staff at the university this week that he found it “deeply frustrating” that some students were flouting public health guidelines.

The HSE has confirmed that there were at least 441 cases of Covid in the city’s 18-24 age group – which has affected 224 households – in the past three weeks.

“Our neighbours contacted me expressing their upset at what they see as activities by our students that do not respect the health and safety of the community at large. People who work in the health service, people who have lost friends and relations to Covid-19. I share their upset.

“I was struck, for example, by one particularly heartfelt message from a local healthcare worker and campus user who shared their frustration with me last week on seeing groups congregating and socialising on campus grounds and which they agreed we could share,” Prof Ó hÓgartaigh said.

The head of the university shared the message in an email to students and staff this week, adding that students had expressed frustration that study spaces were not open on campus and at the challenges posed by the constricted spaces in which they study.

NUIG confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it had imposed sanctions on a number of students in relation to Covid breaches, while there have been none at GMIT.
This is a brief 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

Principals band together for safer cycling infrastructure

Denise McNamara

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A total of 28 Galway City school principals have signed an open letter to the Minister for Transport and local councillors highlighting the need for safer cycling infrastructure around schools, to encourage students and staff to switch to bikes.

The push by Government to cycle or walk where possible during the pandemic has its limitations in a city where cycle lanes are rare and parents are too afraid to let their children cycle on narrow roads often choked with traffic.

A group of cycling enthusiasts in city schools has been campaigning to encourage the school community to engage with Galway City Council’s public consultation process for the next development plan which will have a key role in deciding whether cycling lanes or off-road cycle routes become a reality.

The first stage of the initial consultation process for the ‘City Development Plan 2023-2029, Your City, Your Future’ closes today (Friday). But the process will continue for two more years with more consultation encouraged once the draft plan is published.

This week a letter from 28 principals sent to councillors called for support for the provision of better cycle infrastructure in and around all schools. It has also been sent to Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and Galway West TD and Minister of State at Cabinet, Hildegarde Naughton.

“It is our view that existing road infrastructure around schools can be unsafe for children, teachers, and families who wish to cycle to school and we would like to encourage the development safe cycling routes in the future,” the letter states.

Principal of Coláiste na Coiribe, Eoghan Ó Ceallaigh, said it was important for the school community to get involved with the public consultation.

(Photo: Last year, the Council introduced a ‘School Streets’ pilot scheme at Scoil Iognáid, which bans cans during certain times, encouraging parents and children to walk or cycle. Schools now want proper cycling infrastructure put in place).
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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