A ban on right-hand turns at the Kingston Road/Taylor’s Hill junction will be put in place from Monday morning, as part of a pilot scheme to tackle traffic tailbacks.
Motorists will not be allowed to turn right at the Kingston Road junction when approaching from the Kingston or Taylor’s Hill sides. New traffic lights, road markings and advance warning notices are set to be installed over the weekend, and the ban will be in force prior to rush hour next Monday morning.
The existing lights are likely to be switched off for the weekend while works are carried out.
The changes will see motorists forced to find an alternative route for the school run from Knocknacarra to Coláiste Eine or Salerno on Threadneedle Road, or those travelling from Taylor’s Hill down to the Westside. While the three-month ‘pilot’ ban has been touted as a solution to chronic tailbacks at the junction, some local residents say they were “caught by surprise” and have called for the ban to be abandoned.
A spokesperson for the Maunsells Residents’ Association – which is opposing the plan – said the ban should be postponed until a proper baseline study of traffic levels in the area can be undertaken.
“It will force motorists to find an alternative route for those travelling from Taylor’s Hill to the Westside and will have huge implications for already high and dangerous traffic levels on Maunsells Road.”
For more on the right turn ban, see this week’s Galway City Tribune
Redundancies are not on the cards for Galway City Council workers
Redundancies at Galway City Council as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic have been ruled out by Chief Executive Brendan McGrath.
The local authority has imposed a temporary ban on recruitment, but is not planning to lay off any of its 520-strong workforce.
Mr McGrath said that down the road, if this crisis continues for a prolonged period, replacing staff who retire may not be possible. But for now, Council workers are ‘flat out’ maintaining essential services across a range of departments.
“No, we’re not planning that (lay offs). We will endeavour to keep our workforce fully employed. We’ve built up our team since the recession, a lot of our team and the additional bodies we’ve taken on are related to specific projects, for which there was various forms of grant aid available so I think we’d be confident that we will try to be able to retain the entire staff resource,” he said.
Nearly 150 members of staff have been set up to work from home, thanks to the ICT Department at City Hall.
Outdoor staff, and other office staff who must be at City Hall, are observing social distancing guidelines. Offices that used to be packed with people now have one or two workers, spaced in accordance with the guidelines.
As with the private sector, there have been changes to the ‘normal’ working week for Council staff, and some have been redeployed to other areas.
The Council has a statutory obligation to maintain essential services.
“Essential services are anything to do with homelessness; urgent housing repairs like plumbing and electrical; work on houses that were nearly complete to bring back into beneficial use and to bring back into use for self-isolation; public lighting is essential; burst water mains; maintaining traffic lights for road safety; and anything to do with water supply and waste water and treating effluent,” said Mr McGrath.
Street cleaning is classed as ‘necessary but not absolutely essential’, and is a slightly lower category than ‘essential services’.
The rota for street cleaning has been cut back to a number of times a week rather than every day, and this reflects the quieter streets due to people staying at home.
The city’s burial grounds are closed, but graves still need to be opened, and the Planning Department continues to operate.
Cancer patients will have surgeries in private hospitals
Cancer specialists in Galway are reviewing their patient lists identifying cases that need to be prioritised for urgent surgery and biopsies.
Saolta University Health Care Group, which includes UHG and Merlin Park, has moved to reassure the public that ‘time-sensitive’ cancer cases will get the treatment they need, despite the Covid-19 crisis.
Pat Nash, Chief Clinical Director with the Saolta Group, and consultant cardiologist at UHG, said talks have taken place with Galway Clinic and Bon Secours with a view to cancer surgeries of public patients proceeding at the private hospitals.
“There are many types of cancer, some of which are very time-dependant in that they need intervention very quickly to prevent any bad outcome, whereas others, the immediacy of the time isn’t necessarily going to impact on the long-term outcome.
“I can assure you, that all cases are being reviewed by consultants. Those who need treatment that is time-sensitive, where any delay could impact on outcome, will get treatment.
“Each consultant is reviewing their list and ensuring that any urgent surgery, up until now was accommodated in UHG, but we will be looking to do surgery within Galway Clinic and Bon Secours where we will have capacity and where we can start more or less immediately,” he said.
Meanwhile, cancer patients residing in a residential facility close to UHG while receiving treatment have been relocated to the Harbour Hotel to make way for those battling the Covid-19 pandemic instead.
Cancer Care West offered their 33-bedroom Inis Aoibhinn facility on hospital grounds to University Hospital Galway, which is gearing up capacity to deal with the predicted influx of patients over the coming weeks.
The Harbour Hotel in turn offered its premises free of charge to the charity to accommodate patients from across the region during their treatment.
Richard Flaherty, CEO of Cancer Care West, said staff and 28 residents had relocated to the Harbour Hotel on Monday after the hospital accepted the offer.
It will be used to accommodate staff or patients who need to be isolated close to a medical setting.
“We will continue to provide nursing care and support services onsite at the hotel to our patients.
“We also have arranged transport for the patients to and from treatment as they cannot walk as easily as before to the hospital,” he explained.
“It’s quite a logistical challenge for us, but we knew strategically how important Inis Aoibhinn would be.
“We have to pay for catering and transport but we are particularly grateful to John Lally and his team at the Harbour Hotel for their exceptional generosity for facilitating us at this difficult time.
“As an organisation we are committed to assisting in any way we can the HSE in the fight against Covid-19.”
Salthill’s ‘Heart of Hope’ a beacon of light for frontline workers
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A giant illuminated heart has been erected on the Big Wheel at Curry’s Funpark in Leisureland as a poignant symbol of hope and expression of gratitude for the country’s healthcare workers.
Last month, preparations got underway to set up the fun fair, but it became yet another casualty of Covid-19. Owner Owen Curry got to work on constructing a blue ‘Heart of Hope, An Croí Gorm’ with LED lights to attach to the 120-foot wheel overlooking the Prom.
Together with his crew, and respecting the rules of social distancing, he had the heart in place on the axle of the Big Wheel within a day.
“I wanted to do something, to say to the doctors, nurses, first responders, lab technicians and everybody working in the health service how grateful we are for their incredible dedication and courage in the current crisis.
“When the other lights on the Big Wheel are switched off, the heart emits a glow and appears to float in mid air over the Prom,” he said.
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