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Connacht Tribune

Groups share Wind Park Fund

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Corrib Mask Search and Rescue members Michelle O'Hare and Maeve McAleenan; the organization was one of the beneficiaries of the Galway Wind Park Community Fund.

Community groups in the vicinity of Galway Wind Park have shared over €227,000 in funding from the community benefit programme since the beginning of the pandemic.

SSE Renewables and Greencoat Renewables, joint owners of Galway Wind Park initially launched a €70,000 Covid-19 response fund in April 2020 to support local communities near the wind park in Connemara.

The funding was made immediately available to community groups that were mobilising a rapid response to support those most-in-need as a direct result of the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak.

Awards to 18 applicants, totalling €43,360, were approved for funding for the rollout of initiatives designed to lend support within their community to those in need as a direct result of the pandemic. The remaining €26,640 was returned to the wider Galway Wind Park Community Fund.

Following the success of the initial Covid-19 response fund, the remaining local Community Fund of €157,500 was opened to Covid-19 related initiatives, and 48 groups were successful in securing funding.

Applications from these groups focussed on initiatives to rebuild communities in the months ahead, post-Covid. In light of the pandemic, the 2020 funds were repurposed to support applications for running costs, as restrictions rendered communities unable to generate the funds to cover these expenses.

St. Annin’s School in Killannin was among those to receive funding, towards creating additional space to allow for social distancing to enable the school to open.

“Galway Wind Park community funding will enable us to increase our school yard space thus ensuring that the children can exercise safely and keep their social distance,” said school principal Padraig O’Duineacha.

Corrib Mask Search and Rescue Service applied to the fund to help towards running cost for the year.

“We have had a particularly difficult year to date on many fronts as our fundraising has collapsed because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Niall O’Meachair, PRO of Corrib Mask Search & Rescue.

“The awarding of monies from Galway Wind Park Community Fund will ensure that we will be able to maintain our services in 2020 and into 2021,” he added.

The fund also contributed towards planning permission for new pedestrian footpath facility from Doon East to Doon West and Rosscahill; provision of a walking track around Killannin Pitch Development, and walkway lighting for Corrib Athletics

It helped fund a vegetable garden at Carraroe Men’s Shed; sports equipment for Killannin Ladies Football Club and Coiste na nÓg, an Spidéil, and towards programmes for Rosscahill ICA and Oughterard Senior Citizens as well as Sonas Senior Citizens.

There was a contribution towards Oughterard Anglers & Boatmen’s new moorings project; money towards a heating system upgrade for Scoil Muire Doireglinne, and a contribution towards a playground at Páirc Spraoi.

Panedmic-specific initiatives supported delivery of food for vulnerable families, meals on wheels to the elderly and those isolating/shielding, and medical deliveries to those unable to leave home.

The 174MW Galway Wind Park is Ireland’s largest onshore wind farm, generating enough renewable energy to power around 140,000 homes, while offsetting roughly 289,000 tonnes of harmful carbon emissions annually.

 

Connacht Tribune

Galway’s Golden Girls mark big birthdays!

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Two of Galway’s Golden Girls celebrates milestone birthdays on either side of the county this week – racking up a magnificent 210 years between them.

Oughterard’s Phyl Furness celebrated her 107th birthday this week – and Mary O’Leary marked her mere 103rd birthday in Ardrahan!

Phyl, who is originally from Nottinghamshire in England, moved to Ireland in the 1980s – and has been a wonderful part of her Oughterard community ever since.

Mary was born Mary Quinn on May 23 1919 in Ballinlisheen, Tubber, Co. Clare, to John Quinn and Mary Kate McKague. She never saw her father as he passed away before she was born, leaving her an only child.

She attended Boston National School and Gort Secondary School, and from a young age worked on the family farm.

Mary married her husband Joe O’ Leary in Tubber church in 1948.  They lived in Ballinlisheen until Joe passed away in July 1997 – and Mary then moved to Gort town.

She moved to the Little Flower Nursing Home, Labane, Ardrahan, on October 14 2011 where she has enjoyed a very fulfilled few years since.

Mary is an avid reader; she loves thrillers and romance, according to Joan Gardiner Surman, Proprietor of the Little Flower Nursing Home.

“She keeps herself informed by reading the daily paper and loves Hello magazine, she has a huge interest in the Royal family,” she said.

She celebrated her birthday in the Little Flower Nursing Home a day early on Sunday – surrounded by her family, the staff who take such great care of her and all the residents of the Little Flower.

“She received a lovely letter of congratulations from President Michael D. Higgins along with a beautiful commemorative medal,” added Joan.

Photos: Mary O’Leary celebrating her 103rd birthday and (right) Oughterard’s Phyl Furness, who celebrated a magnificent 107th birthday this week.

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Connacht Tribune

Ombudsman hears of 125 allegations against Galway Gardaí

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A total of 125 allegations were made against Gardaí in Galway last year, according to a report by Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).

There were 105 allegations made against Galway Gardaí in 2020, and so the figure of 125 last year represents a yearly increase of 19%.

It is also higher than the figure of 103 allegations in GSOC’s 2019 report.

The increase in complaints made to GSOC about Gardaí in Galway mirrors a national trend. In 2021, according to GSOC, 12% more complaints and allegations were lodged against Gardaí.

Among the most common complaints were neglect of duty, which ranges in seriousness from not returning a phone call or not properly investigating a crime; abuse of authority, which could include excessive force; non-fatal offences, which could include assault; and discourtesy, which relates to the manner in which a Garda spoke or behaved towards a person.

Meanwhile, complaints to the recently appointed Public Service Ombudsman Ger Deering reached a new high of 4,004 last year – a 17% increase on 2020, and the highest ever in the 38-year history of the Ombudsman.

And 208 of these complaints came from people in Galway; 53 were made about Galway County Council and the Ombudsman received 42 about Galway City Council. NUIG was the subject of six complaints.

Two complaints were received about Galway Mayo Institute of Technology while the Galway and Roscommon Education and Training Board was the subject of one complaint.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see the May 27 edition of the Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Flexibility needed on designation of Connemara bogs

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A Galway senator has called for flexibility to make ‘small local changes’ over the coming years in relation to the SAC designation of the massive Connemara Bog complex.

Senator Seán Kyne told the Connacht Tribune that such flexibility could make a big difference to local families and communities within this SAC (Special Area of Conservation).

“There are a lot of local issues that arise. For example, people from the area can find it difficult to get planning on their own land and allowance could be made for small community projects that mightn’t necessarily tie in with the SAC requirements,” said Seán Kyne.

He said that in cases like those, where a small area could be taken out of the SAC, it should be possible to compensate with the inclusion of another similar sized portion of land on the fringes of the designation.

Senator Kyne – who raised the matter with Minister of State (Local Government) Peter Burke in a recent Seanad debate – said that the size of the Connemara Bog complex site was very large, approximately 50,000 hectares (c. 125,000 acres).

He added that there was a long-running history to the SAC application dating back to 1997 with a lot of appeals to parts of the designation for an area bounded to the north by Galway-Clifden Road (N59) and to the south by the Moycullen-Spiddal road (L1320).

“The Department is engaging in the final signing off of the SAC. I am inquiring in regard to clarification on the appeals. Will there be any future opportunities in regard to appeals?

“I am not talking about large-scale changes. In some cases, there may be a request for some minor changes to the boundaries of the SAC in the future.

“It could be to rectify some issues where there may be mistakes on the mapping, for example, or there could be areas which are commercially sensitive to somebody, and it may make sense to make a slight change in the boundary and that could be compensated elsewhere with the inclusion of another area . . .

“Can there be minor, but perhaps important, changes in the future which would benefit society, the economy and local communities, whether it is a requirement to remove a small piece to allow for a piece of amenity or commercial infrastructure? Clarification on the processes into the future is important,” said Senator Kyne in the Seanad debate.

Minister of State, Peter Burke, said in reply that the criteria used to set the boundaries of the SAC sites were purely scientific as was required in the nature directives.

He said that since the first public notification of the designation back in 1997, there were 60 appeals or objections received – nine of those were successful; 12 were partially successful; 21 were unsuccessful; and 18 were deemed invalid.

“The appeals process for this site has now concluded and the site has moved onto the final stage of the process which requires the publication of a statutory instrument, formally designating the site.

“The statutory instrument includes a description of the site, a detailed map showing the area, a complete list of habitats and species for which the area was selected and a list of activities which require the consent of the Minister before they can be undertaken in a way that affects the site.

“It is important to note that all relevant protections under Irish law apply to the site from the time [1997] it was publicly notified as proposed for designation,” said Minister of State, Peter Burke.

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