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Grant money key to new Galway City ‘cultural district’



Unless Fáilte Ireland stumped up a minimum of €5 million towards the refurbishment and extension of the Galway City Museum into Comerford House and onto the top of the Spanish Arch, the flagship 2020 project would be dead in the water.

That was the prediction by Chief Executive Brendan McGrath, who was responding to concerns by councillors about the €8.3m predicted price tag.

In an update about the planned new ‘cultural tourism district’ around the museum, Mr McGrath said the Council will submit an application for €6m to Fáilte Ireland – a million over what it generally awarded under the Grant Scheme for Large Tourism Projects.

However, the national tourism body had in the past upped its allocation for particular high-profile projects around the country and the Council had already pressed upon Fáilte Ireland officials the need to make an exception here.

The Council would have to make up whatever shortfall there was through the raising of a loan and pay for increased running costs of €300,000 a year.

Senior Executive Officer for capital projects and economic development, Mark O’Donnell, said the cost of the project was significant because of the complexity of the site located beside a national monument – the Spanish Arch – and protected sites such as Comerford House and the River Corrib.

The technology for the planned interactive exhibition spaces was also costly.

“We had a meeting with Fáilte Ireland and they’ve been exceptionally supportive from the beginning. I was very honest, very frank. I said if it’s a lesser amount it’s not going to be viable for us to go ahead with it.”

Cllr Mike Crowe (FF) said he would like to see the figures drilled down about “who’s costing us what”.

“Approaching €9m is a hell of a lot of money for an extension to a museum,” he said.

Cllr Collette Connolly (Ind) queried the ’low-to-medium flood risk’ ascribed to the site, saying she believed it to be a high flooding risk. She also said alarm bells were ringing about the projected cost given the massive cost overruns of the neighbouring arthouse cinema.

However, the project had one councillor dreaming of Bing Crosby returning to sing Galway Bay from the top of the planned Spanish Arch walkway.

“The positivity is oozing out of me,” Cllr Padraig Conneely grinned. “I won’t say anything bad. I’ve been looking for this for 12 years. It’s been delayed for many years and I have to pay dues to Brendan McGrath, he drove this matter forward – I want that noted.”

The Chief Executive said so far the design phase had cost €200,000, of which €150,000 had come from Council coffers.

“Without equivocation, if we get word that Fáilte Ireland aren’t providing at least €5m, the next report I’ll be bringing is to recommend it not go ahead.”

If all went to plan, Mr O’Donnell said the “landmark and exciting project” could be completed by the fourth quarter of 2020 and would need a two-month closure period for the museum, which is the most visited free amenity outside Dublin.

Councillors unanimously gave the green light for the project by approving the ‘part eight’ planning permission.


Galway City Council to ‘review’ Kirwan junction



Councillors are demanding proof that the €5 million spent to transform Kirwan Roundabout into a signalised junction was money well spent – blasting the new junction as having created long delays and worsening rat-running.

A meeting of the local authority last week heard that while there was a general acceptance there would be ‘teething problems’ with the traffic-light junction after it became operational in July, ongoing issues were continuing to draw the ire of road users and local residents.

Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind) said he was one of five councillors on the previous Council to initially vote against the removal of the roundabout, based on fears that it would increase traffic through local residential areas – a fear that had been realised.

“What changes have been needed to be done since it went live,” asked the former Mayor, indicating that there had been little improvement.

Cllr Alan Cheevers (FF) said he understood that enhancement works were being done, but more were required.

“A lot of drivers are avoiding it and its driving traffic through the likes of Terryland Business Park. The Tuam Road is now gridlocked,” he said, calling on the Council to do a “PR exercise” to encourage drivers back to Kirwan.

Cllr Clodagh Higgins (FG) said the junction continued to confuse people and suggested that “overhead hanging signs” would be of assistance.

Green Party Councillor Niall Murphy said when the roundabout was slated for removal, it was promised that delays would be reduced by 25% and rat-running by 90% – but as yet, no evidence had been provided to show this.

“We need to put some science on this.

“The rat-running has moved to Dyke Road and there are some sections of that road where there are no footpaths, so it is quite dangerous for pedestrians,” said Cllr Murphy.

Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the meeting he believed there was a silent majority that were satisfied with the new junction.

He said that the junction’s ‘go live’ date was July 19, which coincided with the reopening of many parts of society that had been in lockdown due to Covid, and that had contributed to additional traffic.

“The first two objectives were to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety, and those objectives have been achieved.

“There will be a post project review – that is something that we always do and I would be happy to bring that back to Council for its consideration,” said Mr Finn.

Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath confirmed that review was set to get underway.

“It will go through the various elements and if issues arise following the review, they will be addressed,” he said.

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Thieves target cars as owners unload shopping bags



Galway shoppers have been advised by Gardaí not to leave their vehicles unlocked or unattended as they bring their shopping into their homes.

This follows reports in the Newcastle area of opportunist thieves ‘striking’ as the shopping bags were being moved into houses.

One resident told the Galway City Tribune that the thieves waited until the person had taken a bag of shopping from their cars to bring into their home.

“This gives the thieves a minute or two to have a quick look in the car – what they seem to be looking for are purses, bags or wallets that are left behind in the car,” the resident stated.

He added that some of local residents had notices two ‘youngish lads’ – possibly in their late teens or early 20s – hanging around the Newcastle Park Road area over the past week or two.

“I just think that people need to be on their guard for this kind of opportunist theft. They just wait until the driver goes inside the house with the shopping and before they come back out, they do a quick search of the car,” he said.

Galway Garda Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that opportunist thieves would always be ‘on the look out for a handy theft’.

“What I would advise is that either have someone to keep an eye on the car when the shopping is being removed – or else lock the car each time, and don’t leave any cash or valuables in the vehicle.

“It might be an inconvenience to lock the car each time you go back into the house, but it is still far better than having something stolen from your vehicle,” said Sgt Walsh.

He also urged, that as a matter of routine, no one should leave any valuables in their cars when they parked them up.

“Even the coins that some people keep in car pockets for parking or other small payments can attract thieves. Never leave anything of value in your vehicles,” he said.

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Councillors back bid to ban city centre parking in Galway



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors have unanimously agreed to ask Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to limit parking to residents only in the city centre.

Pedestrians in the city are being treated like second-class citizens, according to the Mayor, who said cars continued to get the priority on Galway’s streets.

At a meeting of the City Council this week, Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) said the city had come to a standstill in car traffic, and pedestrians and cyclists were suffering the consequences.

“At junctions, why am I a second-class citizen in my own city as a pedestrian? It rains in Galway for 300 days of the year, but I am a second-class citizen when priority is given to motorists.

“It’s always the pedestrian that waits,” she said, hitting out at the length it took to get a green light to cross at pedestrian crossings.

One way to reduce the number of cars in the city centre would be to limit parking to residents only in the city centre, said the Mayor.

In a motion she proposed, seconded by Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind), councillors unanimously agreed to write to the Minister for Transport to demand he pass the necessary legislation to enable the Council to do this.

The Mayor said residents were “sick, sore and tired” of people parking where they wanted when they visited the city and said despite a desire to introduce this measure going back almost 20 years, the Council was hamstrung by national legislation that prevented them from proceeding.

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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