Sceptical comments made by City Councillor Noel Larkin about the merits of a tram system for Galway have been lashed as ‘off the rails’ by GLUAS backers.
The debate about the need for a light rail system in the city resurfaced last week when Independent public representative said Galway would be transformed into “a giant building site” and would be “crippled” during construction.
Cllr Larkin, a businessman, pointed to problems with delays and cost overruns during the construction of a tram in Edinburgh and claimed the same would happen in Galway.
Tram Power, a UK light rail company that backs the Galway GLUAS, has already refuted Cllr Larkin’s claims and say the project is sustainable, practical, environmentally friendly and has the support of the people of Galway.
Now local campaigner, Brendan Holland, of Holland’s newsagent on Williamsgate Street, this week has come out and issued a staunch defence of light rail.
A former chairman of the GLUAS project, Mr Holland said he took issue with Cllr Larkin’s remark that it would be “utterly stupid”.
“To defend this remark he made only two points about the delay and overspend in the Edinburgh Tram project,” said Mr Holland.
“But delays and overspends have nothing to do with the final projects and the benefits of light rail. This is a function of the overseer. It was proposed that the GLUAS would be funded by private funding and this type of funding tends not to have a habit of being over budget or over time.
“Public projects generally seem to suffer from this and one does not have to look too far away from the city centre in the past for proof of this. Surely this is a not a reason not to build a public transport system, surely one learns from the past and not fall into the same trap.”
Mr Holland said you can’t make omelettes without breaking eggs and that spurious arguments about cost overruns and delays were made about the LUAS in Dublin.
“However when the dust settled, I have yet to hear someone, anyone say ‘take up that bloody LUAS it’s useless’. All the properties, businesses, residents and the entire city have benefited from being on the line and the LUAS has now become the symbol of Dublin,” he said.
Mr Holland said Cllr Larkin didn’t look at the positive experiences of light rail, such as Besancon in the South of France. “Instead he chose to focus on the negative,” he said.
The newsagent added: “Councillor Larkin’s answer to the traffic problem is the N6 Galway City Transport Proposed Road (bypass). Once again the GLUAS was never about if we build a ring road around Galway or not. The GLUAS project was about moving people around the city in a fast comfortable manner which is an alternative to and as good as your own car.
“He is a member of City Hall’s transportation strategic policy committee. I would like to hear what his transport solutions are because I am getting a bit long in the tooth waiting for solutions that are no nearer now than they were when we made our proposals for GLUAS.
“If he is worried about the disruption to business while building light rail, maybe it he might start worrying about the damage to businesses while we sit waiting for something to be done.”
Army removes explosive device in Knocknacarra
An army Bomb Disposal Team was called to Knocknacarra last night to deal with a ‘viable’ explosive device.
Following a request from Gardai, the unit was tasked with investigating a suspicious device in a laneway off Cappagh Road at around 10pm.
The area was cordoned off and following an examination, the device was deemed viable and made safe.
It was removed from the scene shortly after 10.30pm and was taken to a Defence Forces location where it will undergo further examination.
Hospital worker failed to self isolate after trip to red-list country
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Management at University Hospital Galway have been asked to investigate ‘as a matter of urgency’ an allegation that a security employee at the hospital returned to work within the 14-day restriction period after coming back from a ‘red-list’ country.
The person has already worked at least two shifts at the hospital – including looking after an elderly patient – despite the fact that the restriction period would not have expired until this Sunday, September 20.
The Galway City Tribune can reveal that in a letter from SIPTU official to a senior UHG manager, it is alleged there was breach of protocol over recent days by an employee of an outsourced security company.
According to the letter to Services Manager Geoff Ginnety, while the worker was not covered under HSE employee rules, “they still must comply with the Government issued protocols”.
The letter from SIPTU states that the worker in question had told his colleagues that he was in a red-listed country and that ‘he did not have to restrict his movements’ for 14 days and could return to work.
“I request that you [Services Manager at UHG] address these concerns as a matter of urgency and provide clear guidance on how to deal with the issue,” the SIPTU letter states.
According to information accessed by the Galway City Tribune, the employee in question returned from a red-listed country on September 6 last and underwent a test for Covid-19 five days later on September 11.
Shortly after that, according to his employers, the results of his Covid tests came back as negative. The Galway City Tribune understands that he returned to his night-shift work on Tuesday night, September 15, and also worked the Wednesday night shift of September 16.
This newspaper has also been informed by reliable sources that on his first night back on duty the employee was left in charge of an elderly patient, while on his second night back at work, he was dutied to the Emergency Department.
When contacted by the Galway City Tribune, a spokesperson for the HSE said that they could not comment on issues relating to individual staff.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Leisureland sinks with €20,000 per week losses
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The plug is being pulled on Leisureland – leaving hundreds of swimmers, mostly children, and trainee lifeguards, high and dry.
Galway Salthill Fáilte CLG, the company that operates the publicly-owned facility, has confirmed it plans to shut down its swimming pool and gym, leaving members of six aquatic clubs, hundreds of schoolchildren, and the general public, without an amenity for the foreseeable future.
Swimming clubs fear they will lose a whole generation of young swimmers in Galway if the pool closes. And they have warned that it could end up costing €1 million to repair and reopen the pool after a prolonged closure.
Leisureland blamed the impact of coronavirus for its financial woes, with losses running at an average of €20,000 per week.
The company said that by August it had already spent its annual €300,000 subsidy subvention from Galway City Council, and the local authority has indicated it is not in a position to increase the subsidy further in 2020.
The planned closure – which could result in the furloughing of over 20 staff from next month – has shocked the local aquatic community.
A lengthy hiatus with Leisureland closed will mean Galway will lose a ‘whole generation’ of swimmers, according to Eamon Caulfield, President of Galway Swimming Club and member and former chairperson of Corrib Water Polo Club.
“We’re particularly upset and aggrieved that this is going ahead, it’s shocking. They should be looking to reverse this decision,” he said this week.
The majority of the five aquatic clubs that use the facility (Galway SC, Shark SC, Laser SC and Tribes and Corrib water polo clubs) are made up of children aged 10-18, including some international athletes. Hundreds of children from Galway schools also learn to swim there.
A water safety group has been using the pool every Sunday morning since it opened in 1973, he said.
“Historically it is where Galway gets its lifeguards from. How can you not have swim lessons in a public pool? How can you not have water safety taught in a pool in Galway?
“It beggars belief, we’re on the sea. The water safety people, where are they going to go, how are we going to get lifeguards for beaches? How are we going to get teachers for teaching swimming?” asked Mr Caulfield.
The clubs have roughly 150 members each and generate €150,000 revenue annually for Leisureland.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full version, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.