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Irish Water denies Galway sewage leak claims

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Irish Water denies Galway sewage leak claims from Mutton Island

Raw sewage from the city’s wastewater treatment plant is spewing out into iconic Galway Bay, it has been claimed. Irish Water has issued a denial.

A local election candidate and residents have claimed that Mutton Island Wastewater Treatment facility is full to capacity and is at bursting-point, with raw sewage spilling out into the bay made famous the world over through song.

Irish Water, which is responsible for the facility, has denied the claims.

Users of the bay, including local residents, fishermen, boat-users and cruise liner operators, have complained that their vessels are covered in raw sewage as a result of having to pass-by the human waste spewing from Mutton Island. It is thought that a nasty ‘pong’ along the coast, particularly at the Claddagh, South Park and the Prom in Salthill, is a direct result of human waste at Mutton Island.

There are fears that, unless capacity at the facility is increased rapidly through capital investment, then it will have serious negative repercussions for the reputation of the city, Galway Bay and tourism in the West of Ireland.

The situation has been described as an environmental and infrastructural crisis by a local election candidate. John Walsh, Fine Gael candidate in Galway City East, said fishermen and other seafarers had reported faecal residue on boats entering the Docks from sailing through swathes of human waste in the Bay.

“These reports are of utmost concern and represent an environmental and infrastructural crisis for Galway,” said Mr Walsh.

“As the peak tourism season approaches, we are facing the prospect of having thousands of visitors on luxury cruise liners dock in a polluted bay, having to navigate through human excrement to come ashore. The city’s reputation is on the line, and it is vital that Galway City Council responds immediately and affords this situation the priority that it warrants,” he said.

Claddagh resident, Paddy Curran, says “the smell is something else”.

“They blamed it on a dead whale but that’s not it. The Claddagh residents and people down at the Claddagh Hall are all worried about it. The pong is unreal. I’ve been reliably told that raw sewage is being discharged from Mutton Island. It’s being discharged into the tide,” he said. Mr Curran said the matter has been raised with city councillors and City Hall.

Another boat-user, who encountered raw sewage seeping from the plant while sailing, said: “I’m not an engineer but it must be capacity issues”.

“We have a population of 72,000 and how many more do you have during the Summer season? And then when the rain water is added in it, there is an overflow into the bay.”

Galway City Council referred all queries to Irish Water, which it said now has responsibility for Mutton Island.

Irish Water in a statement said: “Mutton Island is operated to a very high standard by the operations contractor, and a recent EPA Audit raised no issues in regard to the standard of operation at the plant.

“It should be noted that the plant consistently meets the wastewater quality standards laid down in the Discharge Licence issued by the EPA to Galway City Council, and for which Irish Water is now responsible.

“The capacity of the plant is only exceeded in times of very heavy rainfall, when, due to the amount of rainwater conveyed to the plant, overflows of stormwater which has undergone preliminary treatment occur from the inlet works at the plant.

“The necessity to discharge stormwater is a feature of all wastewater treatment plants. There is an emergency overflow at the entrance to Mutton Island, which discharges untreated stormwater if an exceptional storm event occurs.

“This overflow operated only twice in 2013, both times in December, for a total time period of 157 minutes – this would be the only time that liquid which has undergone no form of treatment at the Mutton Island  is discharged.

“The facility is not leaking raw sewage into Galway Bay. The plant operates with very little spare capacity, due to the high organic loading, but the treatment process operates very well and it consistently achieves very high levels of removal of suspended solids and organic matter and is able to produce a high quality treated discharge.”

Irish Water confirmed that an upgrade of capacity at the plant is on the cards.

Connacht Tribune

Paedophile for sentencing after arrest in Ceannt Station

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A man will be sentenced in December for arranging to meet a child at Ceannt Station for the purpose of sexual assault.

In the meantime, Michael Sheridan, from Cormeelick South, Milltown, must not attempt to use the internet or any other means of communication to contact any child, as set down in conditions attached to his bail.

The 63-year-old pleaded guilty before Galway Circuit Criminal Court last Friday week to attempting to communicate with a child by means of information and communication technology within the State, for the purposes of facilitating the sexual exploitation of the child on dates between March 20 and May 26, 2018, contrary to Common Law and Section 8 of the Criminal Justice (Sexual Offences) Act 2017.

He also pleaded guilty to attempting to meet the child on May 27, 2018, at Ceannt Railway Station in Eyre Square, having communicated by any means with the child, and did so on at least a previous occasion, and did so for the purpose of doing something that would constitute the sexual exploitation of the child, namely sexual assault of the child, contrary to Common Law.  The sex of the child referred to in the charges was not revealed in court.

In reply to Judge Rory McCabe, prosecuting barrister, Geri Silke said there was no need to order a victim impact statement prior to sentence taking place as there was no victim ‘in the real sense’ in the case.

By consent with Bernard Madden SC, defending, sentence was adjourned to December 15 next, when the prosecution will outline the facts in the case against Sheridan.

His free legal aid certificate was extended to cover the cost of a medical report for mitigation purposes.

Judge McCabe also directed the preparation of a probation report at Mr Madden’s request and remanded Sheridan on continuing bail with the existing conditions attached to appear back before the court in December for sentence.

Bail was initially granted in the District Court on condition Sheridan surrender his passport and not apply for a new one or any other travel documents; sign on twice a week at Tuam Garda Station; provide a mobile phone number to Gardai and answer his phone to Gardaí at all times; undertake to the court not to make any contact with any child by any means, to include social media; and not to access the internet at any stage pending completion of the case.

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Connacht Tribune

Final outing for Your County, Your Colours – to honour an old colleague

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It was a simple idea well executed – to deliver 32 GAA county jerseys to frontline workers in a hospital or care home in thanks for their dedication during Covid – but before the dust settled on Your County, Your Colours, there was one final and very special delivery to be made.

It is now nine years since a completely unprovoked attack left Tuam man Shane Grogan with life-changing injuries that mean he still requires round-the-clock medical care today.

Before that vicious assault, Shane was a popular member of staff with Merit Medical – who just happened to be the sponsors of the Your County, Your Colours project, dreamt up by Galway Bay FM commentator and former Galway footballer, Tommy Devane.

The team at Merit had one final request – to deliver a special, framed Galway jersey to Shane and the staff at Greenpark Nursing Home, where Shane has lived for some time.

Karen Smyth, Communications Leader with Merit Medical, said that the staff at Merit Medical had never forgotten Shane.

“We see Your County, Your Colours as a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the hard work of the frontline workers in Greenpark,” she said.

“This is just a small token of appreciation of their efforts; they do an amazing job – not just during the pandemic but every day,” she added.

Shane’s dad Joe relayed his thanks to Merit Medical for this presentation – with a special word to the Accounts Department, where Shane worked prior to his accident.

“They have always kept Shane foremost in their thoughts and hopefully, the visits will start again soon!” he said.

The original idea, as envisaged by Tommy Devane, was to honour the tireless efforts of frontline workers across the country during the pandemic.

So he has asked all 32 counties to supply one county jersey accompanied by a short message of thanks. The jersey along with their message was then framed and sent to the hospital or care setting of the county’s choice.

Greenpark Nursing Home Director of Nursing Brian McNamara thanked Merit Medical and Tommy Devane for what he called this wonderful gift.

“We are honoured to have been thought of in this manner and it is our privilege to look after Merit’s colleague Shane Grogan,” he said.

“In our caring for Shane, there will always be a special bond between Merit Medical and Greenpark Nursing Home,” he added.

(Photo: Shane Grogan (centre) with his parents Joe and Joan behind him, accepting his signed Galway jersey, joined by (from left) the McNamara family – Jane, Cora, Director of Nursing Brian and Ian – of Greenpark Nursing Home; Shane’s physical therapist Johnathan Gibson, Merit Medical’s Karen Smyth and Mark Butler, and Tommy Devane, organiser of Your County, Your Colours).

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Connacht Tribune

Teacher has sights set on passing ultimate Ironman test

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It’s certainly not for the faint-hearted and it pretty much eats up all of your spare time – but for Claregalway schoolteacher, Rachel Farrell, the Ironman 70.3 world championship test in September is something she just cannot wait for.

Rachel (28) has always been bitten by the sports and fitness bug, being a competitive swimmer and badminton player from her school days, but now she is concentrating on what’s called the Ironman 70.3.

The 70.3 part of the title refers to the total distance in miles that competitors will cover between the swim, cycle and running legs of the event.

It works out at half the distance of the full Ironman Triathlon but that still adds up to one huge challenge for those brave enough to take it on.

The first part of the endurance test is a 1.9-kilometre (1.2 miles) swim followed by a 90km cycle (56 miles) and then a half-marathon run (21.1km or 13.1 miles).

“I did my first Ironman 70.3 in France in 2019 and the Utah event on September 17 next is actually the 2020 world championships which couldn’t be held last year because of the Covid situation.

“The course in Utah is by all accounts a pretty gruelling one and the conditions there will be tough too, but I’ve prepared well for it and am looking forward to the challenge,” said Rachel.

She will be competing in the 25 to 29 age category and in the France event two years ago, Rachel notched a top 49 finish – the target this time around is for a top-20 finishing slot.

The daughter of Josette and Hugh Farrell, Rachel is currently a secondary schoolteacher in Dubai who is hoping to travel to Utah about a week before the event to help her acclimatise to the heat and desert like conditions of the US state.

Even the journey to get there will be a mission itself with Dubai the starting off point followed by stop-offs at Elay and Las Vegas.

Rachel is pretty much committed to an all-year round preparation programme based on a four-week rota system – three weeks of intense training followed by one week of scaled down activity.

“When I was in Oman back in 2018 and the event was held there it just caught my interest. I put in on my bucket list and really enjoyed the one in France in 2019.

“I’m not sure whether I’ll keep doing them or not – I might just concentrate on swimming or cycling events into the future – but for the moment, Utah is the goal and I’m really looking forward to it,” said Rachel.

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