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Graduates want ceremonies on NUI Galway campus



The head of the student body at NUI Galway has called on the university to ensure that an in-person ceremony takes place for this year’s graduates – with only an online function currently planned for.

President of the Students’ Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, said plans were already in place at DCU for the classes of 2021 to graduate on campus early next year, in the context of Covid restrictions.

However, the only plan at NUIG was to allow graduates from 2020 – the group that missed out on last year’s ceremonies – to have an in-person ceremony later this year or early next year.

“I have already asked the registrar for clarity on this, and if it would be possible to have an event, maybe with a marquee outdoors. We are meeting with the Dean later this week and one of the things we will be discussing is graduations. We know that the regulations allow for crowds of up to 200 outdoors.

“It is such an important event for students and their families,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn.

The lack of clarity was further confusing, she continued, as thousands of students would be returning to campus in a few weeks, raising questions as to why it would be unsafe to allow graduation ceremonies proceed.

“We are questioning how the university will be brining hundreds of new first year students on campus for orientation in a few weeks, but they won’t bring students who have paid thousands in fees over the last number of years back to graduate,” she added.

Meanwhile, she said the majority of students were looking forward to the return of on-campus classes in September, after two years of upheaval due to Covid restrictions.

However, that presented a series of difficulties, particularly as many of those who started college last year never had to opportunity to attend in person.

“From what we’re seeing, the vast majority of students are really looking forward to coming back and making up for lost time. There is, of course, a group of students who are a bit nervous and they have asked that accommodation be made for them to allow them to continue to attend without coming on campus.

“We have asked that accommodation be made for people who are immunocompromised and for students with disabilities and we have got confirmation that they will be accommodated,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn. “Those who can come on campus should.”

A large proportion of those coming to the university this year will be doing so with either limited or no experience of being there, she said.

“I believe we’ll need a reorientation for second years who don’t know where anything is, but third years as well who only got about half a year before the Covid lockdown [in early 2020].

And while many were looking forward to the return, the issues with securing suitable accommodation in the city continued this year, said Ms Nic Lochlainn.

“The trajectory of the housing crisis means it has just been getting worse every year. I was Welfare Officer last year, but even from being a student myself, I know it’s getting worse every year.

“There are so many students currently looking for accommodation and they can’t get anything. A lot of them are emailing hundreds of advertisers on and even with the few they are getting a response from, they are completely unaffordable,” said the SU President.

“The Government and the university need to realise that not every student has parents who can pay rent for them and the situation is not getting better – they need to build purpose-built affordable accommodation because it is pricing people out of education,” she added.


LDA identifies lands for over 6,000 new homes in Galway City



From this week’s City Tribune: Investment of €1.8 billion is needed to deliver on the potential for more than 6,000 new housing units identified by the Land Development Agency in Galway City.

The LDA’s Report on Relevant Public Land identified eight sites in Galway which it claims can deliver up to 6,050 affordable and social houses, if planning and other constraints are overcome.

It identified potential for up to 2,240 homes on HSE land at Merlin Park Hospital; up to 1,010 homes at Renmore Barracks; and up to 950 homes at Galway Harbour.

The report conceded these sites are on complex land with “numerous constraints” and are longer-term possibilities requiring masterplans.

The other six sites include: Ballymoneen Road; Terryland Waterworks on Dyke Road; Brothers of Charity Services on Old Dublin Road; City Hall at College Road; and Sandy Road.

Galway’s sites are among 83 State-owned landbanks the LDA has assessed as having development potential for up to 67,000 homes.

Only Ballymoneen Road and Dyke Road are in what the LDA terms Class 1, which can deliver a maximum of 420 within five-ten years.

This includes between 140-200 homes on Ballymoneen Road, and between 160-220 homes at Terryland Waterworks on Dyke Road.

The cost for the development of Ballymoneen Road, on a site opposite Coláiste na Coiribe, would be between €41.2m-€50.7m.

The total cost of delivering up to 220 homes on the Teryland site is between €78.5m and €101m

The remaining 93% of the total city target face greater constraints, and longer timeframes.

Almost 70% of the  target, or 4,200 units, is earmarked for sites that are ‘Class 3’, which are lands that have potential for residential but face more constraints and are longer-term possibilities requiring masterplans.

The LDA carried out an assessment on the eight sites in the city, which had an “indicative yield” of between 4,330 and 6,050 new housing units.

John Coleman, LDA Chief Executive said his organisation was “committed to working closely with the public bodies to find common ground for the release of land for affordable housing purposes and for the common good”.

This was a first step that “will lead to the identification of locations where new affordable homes can be built”, he added.

(Image: Lands at Galway Harbour identified by the LDA for up to 950 homes).
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read extensive coverage of the LDA report and for indicative maps of the lands, see the March 31 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.

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Transport concerns over Knocknacarra high-rise apartments plan



From this week’s City Tribune: Galway City Council has sought further information from the applicants proposing to develop 227 apartments in seven high-rise blocks at the entrance to Gateway Retail Park in Knocknacarra.

In what is the second application for the site at Gort na Bró, Glenveagh Living Ltd is seeking to develop five blocks ranging in height from three to five storeys – with 85 one-bed units, 139 two-bed units; and three three-bed units.

In a Further Information request, the Council noted that Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) expressed concerns that the development “is located in close proximity to the preferred and/or approved route” of the N6 Galway City Ring Road.

“The authority is of the opinion that insufficient data has been submitted with the planning application to demonstrate that the proposed development will not have a detrimental impact on the capacity, safety or operational efficiency of the national road network in the vicinity of the site”.

Planners state that the creation of a “fifth arm” on the roundabout from the Western Distributor Road into Gateway Shopping Park and the site proposed for development was not discussed at pre-planning meetings and “is not permitted”.

Cycling facilities have been identified as concerning, as the two-way cycling lane on the WDR “ends abruptly”, bringing cyclists into the path of oncoming traffic.

Bicycle parking included in the application would be “difficult and inconvenient” to access and would not store non-standard bikes with cargo elements, it is outlined.

(Photo: Cllr John Connolly meets with residents to discuss the Glenveagh apartments proposal).
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the March 31 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.

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Junction underpass in Galway City regularly left under water



From this week’s Galway City Tribune: An underpass to facilitate pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate the Briarhill junction is regularly flooded with up to three feet of water discommoding the most vulnerable road users.

The popular ‘line’ walkway connecting Renmore to the heart of the city is also often deluged with water.

The two routes are used by hundreds of people to get around without cars but are an example of how Galway City Council are slow to address active travel issues, according to newly co-opted Social Democrats Councillor Alan Curran.

Cllr Curran had to warn off four people from walking through the underpass when he passed through last week.

“It’s like that for a few weeks. This happens regularly. I understand from the Council it’s a drainage issue. They’re aware of it and they have cleaned it out but it keeps returning in heavy rain,” he explained.

“The impression I got was it will take a while to get fixed. It may require some heavy engineering solution. My concern is the longer these things go on, the less people use them. Their only other option is wait ten minutes or longer at the begging buttons to cross four sets of lights.

“The entrances are dark and narrow and don’t give the illusion of safety for those using it, especially during the dark winter months. There was a pedestrian and cycling tunnel recently built in Amsterdam and the difference is stark – they know how to do it right.”

Head of Transport at Galway City Council, Uinsinn Finn, said the underpass was constructed as part of the original N6 Link, in the mid-90s when a roundabout operated.

When the roundabout was replaced with a signalised junction, with pedestrian crossing facilities and cycling lanes across the junction, the underpass worked more as a secondary option for pedestrians and cyclists.

“Underpasses – and overpasses – are not ideal and not considered in the city as we put pedestrians and cyclist generally ahead of motorised traffic and accommodate them at junctions with at-grade crossings,” the engineer stated.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the March 31 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.

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