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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

Help at hand for hand-pressed families this Christmas

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SVP Galway area President Séamus McManus.

Galway people struggling to cover the cost of Christmas have been urged to seek help from the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.

The SVP Galway area’s network of 27 conferences is experiencing a surge in requests for help with food, energy and heating bills as the cost-of-living soars – but Galway area President Séamus McManus insisted help was at hand.

“There is hope out there, and there is help available for people in trouble. We might not be able to do everything but we can help, especially coming up to Christmas.

“Imagine a Christmas that is cold and hungry? That would be no Christmas at all, so we have help. We want people to at least enjoy those few days of Christmas,” Mr McManus said.

SVP said it was “deeply concerned” by new Central Statistics Office data which showed a sharp rise in households going without essentials such as nutritious food, adequate heating and clothing; up by 184,000 to 875,000 people nationally compared with 2021.

SVP nationally is getting an average of 800 calls per day, which is up about 20% on last year. This is mirrored in Galway city and county, too, Mr McManus said.

“We’ve had some heart-breaking requests where the main breadwinner had a serious diagnosis and it meant their whole life has been thrown into turmoil; they can’t pay rent, they can’t pay ordinary family living expenses.

“We’ve also had students with mental health issues who have had to pull out of college and lose their SUSI grants and they’re left high and dry. We’ve had people with relationship breakdown, where maintenance wouldn’t be forthcoming and they’re left in a precarious position,” he added.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway Professor on taking the reins as country’s top doc

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Chief Medical Officer, Breda Smyth.

Three weeks after Professor Breda Smyth was appointed Ireland’s interim Chief Medical Officer (CMO), the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Monkeypox outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

It proved a baptism of fire for Tony Holohan’s successor, who already had the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic in her in-tray.

But the Mayo native, who lives in Galway, took it all in her stride.

“It’s a significant responsibility. I am taking it one step at a time,” said the country’s first female CMO.

And in fairness, it’s not like she’s wet round the ears when it comes to strategising for infectious diseases.

Professor Smyth may be best known outside of medical circles in Galway for her traditional Irish musical talents, but she was also the public face of the Covid-19 pandemic as HSE West Director of Public Health.

Through that HSE role, which she held for 13 years, she became a member of NPHET (the National Public Health Emergency Team) that advised Government on how to steer the country through the pandemic; as well as being a member of the Expert Advisory Group on Rapid Testing, and a founding member of the Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group.

That experience stood to her since becoming interim CMO in July, which progressed to a permanent position in October.

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Former Minister slams ‘rotten and corrupt’ IFI

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Senator Sean Kyne.

By Dara Bradley

A Galway Senator has slammed Inland Fisheries Ireland as ‘rotten and corrupt’ – and Fine Gael’s Seán Kyne has threatened to use parliamentary privilege to highlight what he labelled as ‘issues of corruption’ within IFI.

Senator Kyne is a former Minister of State with responsibility for natural resources, which encompassed IFI which itself is responsible for the protection of waters, including Lough Corrib. Speaking in the Seanad last Thursday, he referenced a review that was commissioned by the Minister for the Environment, Climate Action and Communications, Eamon Ryan, into the functioning of the board of IFI.

A report by senior counsel Conleth Bradley concluded last July and was sent to the Department and to IFI before being published on November 7.

Senator Kyne said he has read the report, which used legalese to conclude: “There is not a basis, from the alleged disclosures and the information and documentation which have been reviewed, for the Minister to be satisfied that the functions of IFI are not being performed in an effective manner such as to give effect to the removal of all members of IFI from office.”

Get the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now, or you can download the digital edition from www.connachttribune.ie. You can also download our Connacht Tribune App from Apple’s App Store or get the Android Version from Google Play.

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