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High Court threat over vote to have ‘greenway’ through estate

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Residents of a Knocknacarra estate have threatened High Court action against Galway City Council over the legality of a right of way which they claim is the source of difficulties with antisocial behaviour.

The White Oaks Residents’ Association have been campaigning for years to have a ‘greenway’ through the estate closed – this was voted down by a narrow margin of 10-8 by councillors last week during a meeting on the Draft City Development Plan.

Local area councillors – including Niall McNelis who lives in the estate – claimed last week that some residents are “petrified” at night.

The residents have since held discussions with a barrister and told the Council that they plan to mount a High Court challenge to the legality of whether a right of way actually exists at the greenway.

They have long argued that significant levels of antisocial behaviour are caused by the access. The throughway has a Council-installed gate which was locked last November.

Since that date, residents say that all antisocial behaviour problems in the area have ceased.

The matter was hotly debated at City Council during the City Development plan last week with the council hearing an impassioned plea from Cllr Pearce Flannery to listen to the people involved and grant them a right to live in peace.

At the Council meeting last week, Councillor Pearce Flannery proposed a motion to close the access and produced documentation that he claimed proved that no legal right of way was in existence and therefore no greenway could possibly exist.

Cllr Flannery claims the Council did not follow protocol in creating a right of way under the Planning and Development Act 2000.

“Because of this we now have a situation whereby residents are living in fear at night,” he said.

Residents’ association chair Brendan Wallace said they will not accept the decision of the Council.

“Our quality of life has been destroyed simply because certain councillors were blindly willing to support an executive that are unwilling to admit that they got it wrong. Why I do not know.

“These councillors seem to forget that they were elected by us, to represent our interests. It would appear to me that they prefer to curry favour with the executive rather than do their jobs as public representatives.

“This will go the distance through the courts and potentially cost hundreds of thousands of euro which is a shame because at the end of the day it is the taxpayers’ money the City Council are happily spending in seeking to defend an indefensible legal position.

“The legal advice given to City Council from their own advisors stated: ‘As you are aware the fact that the land over which the said greenway is primarily and predominantly located is owned by Galway City council does not in itself in our view amount to the automatic establishment of a right of way’.

“Yet still they persist in trying to force through this abomination against our wishes and in spite of a local plebiscite given to Council where over 99% of the residents demanded closure of the access due to the negative spillovers and antisocial behavior caused by this unnecessary access.

“All we are asking for is fair play and the basic right to live in peace in our homes. Our barrister is now taking the matter through the courts which to me is ludicrous in the extreme, but the Council have left us with no other option,” said Mr Wallace.

Connacht Tribune

Pedestrian seriously injured in Furbo hit and run

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A man in his 40s is in a serious condition in hospital following a hit and run in Furbo last night.

He was a pedestrian who was walking on the R336 road near Furbo Church, when he was hit by a car around 8.30pm.

The driver of the car failed to remain at the scene.

The road is currently closed with diversions in place while Garda Forensic Collision Investigators conduct an examination of the scene.

Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to the collision to come forward, particularly any road users who may have dash-cam footage recorded in the area between 8pm and 9pm.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Drug use in Galway at ‘frightening levels’ says top Garda

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Use of illegal drugs has reached ‘fairly frightening’ levels across the city and county, according to Galway’s top Garda.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that only about 10% of the drugs in circulation in society are detected by Gardaí.

He said that there had been increases in detection of drugs for sale or supply and for simple possession in the city and county so far this year.

Cocaine in particular was an issue in Galway, he said, but increased drug use was evident in “every village and town in the country”.

In his report to the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Curley said that there had been a 22% increase in detection of drugs for sale or supply in Galway, up 14 to 78 at the end of September.

There had been 108 incidents of drugs for simple possession, up by 15%.

The amount of cocaine seized in the first nine months of the year amounted to €538,838. The level of cannabis seized amounted to €361,872.

Ecstasy (€640) and heroin (€2,410) were also seized, according to the Garda report.

Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) said it was a concern that cocaine had overtaken cannabis for the first time, in terms of the street value of the amounts seized.

Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said that the Garda Drugs Unit needed to be commended for the seizures.

Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) said it was concerning that use of cocaine had escalated.

In response to Chair of the JPC, Councillor Niall McNelis (Lab), Chief Supt Curley said there were some instances where parents or siblings were being pursued by criminals over drug debts accrued by family members.

He added he would continue to allocate resources to the drugs problem.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Up to 20-week waiting period for youth mental health service in Galway

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Young people in Galway have highest waiting times in the state for an appointment with the Jigsaw youth mental health service.

That’s according to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell who revealed that waiting times for an appointment here are currently up to 20 weeks.

“Figures released through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people, in Galway,” she said.

“Demand for the Jigsaw service in Galway and across the State continues to grow, however, as a result youths are waiting up to 20 weeks to get an appointment. With young people from Galway currently experiencing the longest wait times at 20 weeks.

“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.

“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk,” she added.

Deputy Farrell said that young peoples’ mental health had been adversely affected during the pandemic – with loss of schooling, sports, peer supports and even their ability to socialise with friends impacting.

“Jigsaw have experienced a 42% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears,” she said.

“There is also an element of postcode politics, that depending on where you live you may get treated quicker.  Some areas have a three-week waiting time while others are left waiting for 20 weeks.

“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed – so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.

“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution,” she concluded.

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