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Leisureland peace talk hopes are sunk

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A last ditch bid to broker a compromise between the chief executive of Galway City Council and the swimming and water polo clubs who have refused to return to Leisureland over price increases failed this week after a series of heated meetings.

City Chief Executive Brendan McGrath has now issued the five clubs with a deadline of March 9 to come back to him with a deal or he will reallocate the slots – which brought in income of around €250,000 before the fee hikes.

The clubs are standing firm in their opposition to any increased charges, insisting they were already paying double the national average to use the public facility before it was closed for 11 months due to storm damage.

A row over a proposed increase of 55% in charges for the clubs led to five of the seven board members of Leisureland resigning. That was negotiated down to 20% by Mr McGrath following fractious meetings with the club.

The tone of those meetings was conveyed in an email later sent by Vincent Finn, Connacht Regional Support Officer with Swim Ireland, to Mr McGrath, which he in turn then forwarded to councillors in an update on the negotiations.

In the email, Mr Finn said following six meetings, the Chief Executive had not listened to a word the club representatives had said.

“Instead you choose to believe the tripe that was fed to you by your staff. You choose to ignore the unanimous decisions of the board and the entire elected City Council,” he wrote.

“Good luck with your plan B and C. You had the chance to save clubs who work so hard to provide a structured and safe environment for children in the city of Galway, but you choose to fail them. Well done.”

One of the board members who did not resign, Cllr Padraig Conneely, said the Chief Executive had bent over backwards to reach a deal.

“The clubs have become hard line. They certainly haven’t been cooperative in arranging meetings. For example they wanted seven days written notice before meeting with the Chief Executive and then only after working hours,” remarked Cllr Conneely.

“The Chief Executive has facilitated them at every turn, last Monday he stayed in City Hall until 11pm to meet them – this is not the way to do business.

“Leisureland will have to move on if the clubs don’t agree to compromise like everyone else. We cannot wait forever. Four months has already been lost since €4.4m was spent on refurbishing it. It is losing €400,000 a year, paid for by the taxpayer, it can’t continue to be a drain on city finances and must be run as a more commercial enterprise.”

Mr Finn rejected any criticism of the clubs by Cllr Conneely.

“The clubs are in negotiation with Mr McGrath and until those are concluded we will be making no comment. We are hopeful we will be able to come to an agreement and get this sorted,” he told the Galway City Tribune.

“As far as Cllr Conneely is concerned, he hasn’t picked up the phone to the clubs since this all happened. He voted twice not to increase prices. We have no interest whatsoever what he has to say.”

CITY TRIBUNE

‘Horrific’ conditions at ‘temporary’ halting site

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Mould and damp around the shower, toilet and sink area in one of the units at the Carrowbrowne temporary halting site beside the Headford Road.
Mould and damp around the shower, toilet and sink area in one of the units at the Carrowbrowne temporary halting site beside the Headford Road. [File pic]

Living conditions at Carrowbrowne ‘temporary’ halting site on the Headford Road are “truly dreadful” and “distressing”, according to four University of Galway academics.

The quartet, who visited the halting site earlier this month, called on the authorities to provide “decent and culturally appropriate accommodation” for the 13 families living at the ‘temporary’ site, “as a matter of urgency”.

The call comes in the same week a former city mayor was sharply criticised for promoting ‘anti-Traveller rhetoric’.

Galway Traveller Movement urged Fianna Fáil to suspend City Councillor Michael John Crowe, pending a full investigation into comments he made in a press statement issued on Monday and repeated on local radio, about Galway City Council buying a house in Renmore for Traveller accommodation.

As that controversy raged on social media this week, Dr John Cunningham, Director of MA History, University of Galway, said he was shocked by the “scandalous” conditions he saw at Carrowbrowne ‘temporary’ halting site.

“I was at an event on campus earlier this year where President Michael D (Higgins) gave a speech and specifically denounced conditions in Carrowbrowne and he would know some of the families, who lived in the Westside area.

“So, I was aware of the circumstances but faced with the actual reality of it was just utterly shocking,” Dr Cunningham told the Galway City Tribune.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Kissing goodbye to hated gates under pilot project

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It was agreed to start the project with the gates in the Claddagh and Terryland Forest Park.

Kissing gates at South Park and Terryland Forest Park will be removed in a pilot project to assess their impact on public spaces.

Galway City Council has agreed to trial the removal or replacement of kissing gates in the city on a case-by-case basis while waiting for the completion of an audit that will be used to develop a policy on the controversial barriers at Wednesday’s Recreation and Amenity Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) meeting.

The follows anger among the cycling community that the one in South Park had been removed to facilitate a private company fun run only to be returned days later as reported in last week’s Galway City Tribune.

Galway City East Councillor Owen Hanley, who attended the meeting, said it is still to be decided what barriers would be erected in their place and it would depend on the needs of the location.

“Previously I worked with Council staff on the Terryland Forest Park kissing gate along the cyclebus route and we agreed to use chicanes to slow but not stop users,” he revealed.

“Whatever goes in will allow cyclists and wheelchair users to pass. We have been given no timelines but it will be in the short-term and I will be following up on this.”

He said the Council has been discussing how to handle kissing gates since he was elected as a Social Democrat over three years ago.

“The rare instances where mopeds or motorbikes damage our green spaces does not justify the widespread use of kissing gates, in fact many times, kissing gates don’t even stop this behaviour. Kissing gates present a very real barrier to people who use wheelchairs or buggies, or cycle, preventing them for accessing public parks as well as routes to work and school.”

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Abuse and violence towards LGBT+ people is ‘massively under-reported’

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Fiona McDonagh-Delaney, Project Co-ordinator and Tiernan Arnup, Administration and Communications, Amach LGBT+, Westside Recource Centre. PHOTO: BRIAN HARDING.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT+) people in Galway continue to suffer verbal abuse, violence, and threats of violence while socialising in the city, according to advocates.

Amach, which supports the local LGBT+ community, said that homophobia and hate crimes persist despite recent legislative gains and societal change in Ireland in recent years.

A new report by An Garda Síochána highlighted that just 17 ‘hate-related incidents’ were recorded in the Galway Garda Division in 2021.

That includes hate crimes and hate-related, non-crime incidents recorded across nine discriminatory motives including age, disability, race, colour, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and gender.

But Fiona McDonagh-Delaney, project co-coordinator at Amach in the Westside Community Centre, said it was an “incredibly low figure”, that showed “massive under-reporting”.

LGBT+ Ireland reported a four-fold increase in calls to its helpline last year of people experiencing hate crime, based on their LGBT+ status, she said.

Ms McDonagh-Delaney said that was the reality on Galway’s streets too, even if the official Garda figures did not reflect that.

She said there was a “sense of normalisation” of threats of violence and violence itself, based on LGBT+ status. This had become “commonplace” in Galway and LGBT+ people avoided certain areas at weekends because of it.

“We’d know ourselves that on a Friday and Saturday night, you don’t go up around Eyre Square on a night out. You know what areas to avoid because you know you are at high risk of experiencing some form of abuse. Whether it’s verbal abuse, the threat of violence or actual violence,” she said.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

 

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