A recently decommissioned Irish naval ship may be turned into a museum in Galway.
The idea of using the LÉ Aisling as a visitor attraction in the city, has been floated with Government.
Paul Kehoe, Junior Minister at the Department of Defence, this week said the request is “under consideration”.
The ship, which had been twinned with Galway City for almost 20 years, has travelled 628,856 nautical miles, the equivalent of travelling around the world more than 32 times.
It was decommissioned at a ceremony in Galway Harbour in June after 36 years of service to the State.
At the time, City Councillor Pearce Flannery (FG), the deputy mayor, suggested it could be used as a floating museum in Galway Harbour or off Salthill.
Minister Kehoe this week said he would soon make a decision as what to do with the LÉ Aisling.
The former LÉ Emer was disposed of in 2013 at auction, and fetched €320,000 for Exchequer. In 2015, the former LÉ Aoife was transferred to the Maltese Armed Forces on humanitarian grounds and is used to help with the ongoing refugee crisis in the region.
Minister Kehoe said: “The question of using the former LÉ Aisling as a visitor attraction in Galway City has been raised with me and is under consideration. I am advised that given the age, size, structure and layout of Naval Service vessels that they are considered rather unsuitable for conversion to use as museums or visitor attractions.
“Many issues arise in connection with the conversion of vessels into visitor attractions. This is because a vessel requires ongoing protection measures to affect the physical condition of the vessel to defend it, to stabilise the structural integrity of the vessel, and to guard it from deterioration.
“A vessel must be kept structurally sound, weather resistant and watertight and this requires the availability of materials and competent personnel with requisite skills and expertise to carry out work, at a significant cost. There are other significant costs for the recipient associated with a donation of this type, such as health and safety issues and insurance liabilities and risks.”
The ship was named after the poem, “Aisling” to commemorate the centenary of the birth of the poet and nationalist Patrick Pearse who wrote much of his poetry in Galway.
The Aisling was the ship that was first on scene when the Air India Jumbo Jet was downed by a bomb explosion off the Cork Coast in 1985.
It is currently being stored on water at berthage facilities at the Naval Base in Haulbowline in County Cork.
Minister Kehoe said he would take into account “the pressures on berthage infrastructure and the cost of maintenance on the vessel, the most cost effective and responsible approach” when he decides on what to do with the vessel.
Gardaí bid to identify body recovered near Mutton Island
Gardai have launched an investigation following the discovery of a body in Galway Bay yesterday afternoon.
A member of the public raised the alarm after spotting the body in the water while walking on the causeway to Mutton Island.
Galway Fire Service, Gardai and the RNLI attended the scene and recovered the body at around 4pm, before it was taken to University Hospital Galway for a post mortem.
It is understood that the body may have been in the water for some time.
Gardaí are currently examining a list of missing people in the city.
Gardaí investigate fatal Carraroe crash
A man in his 30s has died following a road crash in Carraroe in the early hours of this morning.
At 3.50am, Gardaí and emergency services attended at a single car collision on a minor road.
The driver of the car, a man in his 30s, was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later. A passenger in the car, a male in his 30s, was taken by ambulance to Galway University Hospital. His injuries are not thought to be life threatening.
The road is currently closed and local diversions are in place. Garda forensic collision investigators will examine the crash site this morning.
Land Development Agency rules out Merlin ‘land grab’
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Campaigners have warned the Land Development Agency (LDA) to keep its hands off Merlin Woods.
Local community group Friends of Merlin Woods said that the amenity on the east side of the city is not suitable for residential development.
It has sought clarification on whether the LDA has earmarked part of the recreational and amenity lands for housing, after it appeared on its online database of publicly-owned lands.
In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, the LDA said its database compiles a list of all State lands, not just land for development.
In relation to Merlin Woods, the LDA said: “Those lands aren’t included in the LDA developments in Galway. The lands database is a map-based tool which compiles all State lands and has no reflection on development potential.”
It came after Caroline Stanley of Friends of Merlin Woods raised concern that land within Merlin Woods had been earmarked for development.
“I’d be concerned that it’s marked as residential when it’s in RA (Recreational and Amenity) land. Some is marked ‘open space’ but some is marked as ‘new proposed residential’ on its [LDA’s] database. It makes us wonder why. We’d like clarity and to clear it up.
“The message we’d like to get out there is we need clarification, whether it’s a mistake on the Land Development Agency’s part, or whether it is an area that they consider as a residential area, which the community would be opposed to. We need clarity. It could be something that is in line for development later on, we don’t know, and we need clarity.”
Councillor Owen Hanley explained that the fears around Merlin Woods stem from legislation currently making its way through the Oireachtas that would strip councillors of powers to veto the transfer of land to the LDA for housing projects.
The Bill would also allow Government to direct what public lands – including those owned by local authorities – can be transferred to the LDA for development of social and affordable housing.
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.