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CITY TRIBUNE

Lidl planning new supermarket in Wellpark Retail Park

Enda Cunningham

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German discount supermarket chain Lidl is planning to open a store in Wellpark Retail Park.

Radical Properties – which owns the retail park – has sought permission for a change of use of the former PC World premises from bulky retail use to a discount supermarket with off licence.

The plans also involve creating a new customer lift in the opposite block (at Petmania) to the basement carpark.

Around 25 new jobs would be created if the proposal is given the go ahead by City Hall.

According to the application: “Wellpark Retail Park is an established independent retail centre and the proposed development will enhance the range of goods and services which is offered there. The addition of a convenience store to the retail park will not materially diminish the prospect of attracting private sector investment within the city centre.

“It will enhance the competitiveness of the convenience retail sector in the catchment area and will attract further customers to the retail park. All of the existing stores within the park are likely to derive a complementary benefit from an increase in the number of shoppers who will visit.”

The applicants pointed out that a similar application in 2006 for a change of use at an adjacent unit in the retail park was rejected as the plans did not comply with the provisions of the CI (Commercial/Industrial) zoning.

However, the applicants point out that a specific objective was inserted in the City Development Plan 2017-23, so that the Council could consider a “full range of retail uses”, including for supermarkets with a net retail area of less than 2,500 square metres. The application is for a store with a net retail space of less than 1,000 sq m.

Radical Properties is now owned by property fund Alanis Capital. Its previous owner, Gerry Barrett, made a submission to the City Council in 2016 as part of the drafting process for the City Development Plan asking that a planning stipulation be ‘relaxed’ in a bid to tackle the “disproportionately high” failure of bulky goods retails in Wellpark Retail Park.

Under the previous City Development Plan, there was an objective that the retail park could only cater for bulky goods and local retailing needs.

“The disproportionately high failure rate of a number of bulky good operators within Wellpark has impacted on the attractiveness of the existing floorspace to new operators and existing more durable tenants.

“If a more diverse range of retail mixes were permitted, it would allow the current vacancy rate within the Park to be reduced and ensure additional footfall, increased vitality and commercial synergy at this central location,” Mr Barrett’s submission read.

During a discussion in 2016 on whether to lift planning restrictions, Councillor Peter Keane described the retail park as an “abject failure” and said it would have collapsed long ago, only for the persistence of Mr Barrett in trying to reinvent it.

A decision on the current application is due on March 24.

CITY TRIBUNE

Commission critical of Mental Health Unit at UHG

Dara Bradley

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Aspects of Galway’s new psychiatric unit – officially launched by a Government minister to much fanfare this week – have been branded “inadequate” and “inappropriate”, in an official report published last week.

The Mental Health Commission has highlighted failings at the new Adult Acute Mental Health Unit at University Hospital Galway, following an official complaint from a chairperson of a Mental Health Tribunal held at the facility.

An inspector with the Mental Health Commission carried out an inspection of the unit and found that the Mental Health Tribunal room there “was not adequately sized, ventilated and soundproofed and that the facilities did not respect the dignity of the patient during the Mental Health Tribunal”.

The new unit was built last year, at a cost of €20 million, after the old building was decommissioned because it was ‘not fit for purpose’.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) moved to address a number of issues at the new facility, after a series of complaints from service users and their advocates, were highlighted in this newspaper.

Patients said they felt isolated, demeaned and dehumanised in the new unit. Lack of sleep due to the noisiness of the new inpatient facility, and a reduction in human contact with staff since it opened last Autumn were chief among the concerns. A ‘draconian’ no-smoking policy where inpatients and visitors are ‘stopped and searched’ for tobacco, and where those caught smoking outside the unit were ‘punished’, was also causing distress.

Last February, the HSE acknowledged there were infrastructural problems with the new facility, and said it was working to address lighting and noise issues at the new unit. It defended its ‘no smoking’ policy.

This latest report from the Mental Health Commission into the failings of the new facility, was published the day after Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly, officially ‘cut the ribbon’ on the new unit last Monday.

On the eve of his visit, the Galway City Tribune contacted some of the inpatients who had complained about the facility last year. “Unfortunately, none of the issues we raised about the unit have been addressed as of yet,” said one service user who responded.

The centre has 50 beds, and residents are referred there by 12 consultant-led teams, including two psychiatry of later life teams, a mental health intellectual disability team, and a rehabilitation and recovery team.

In July of this year, the Mental Health Commission carried out an inspection of the facility, after receiving complaints about the provision of appropriate private facilities and adequate resources to support the Mental Health Tribunal process.

“This room where mental health tribunals were held was partitioned to provide a tribunal room and a training/multi-purpose room. It was not soundproofed and proceedings could be heard in the training room next door. The room was small, approximately five metres long and 3.5 metres wide. A narrow table with six chairs was in the centre of the room. The width of the table did not allow adequate space for people sitting opposite each other being insufficient to accommodate mental health tribunal members, the patient, his/her advocate, any attending nurses and the consultant psychiatrist. There were no windows; there was a Velux style window in the ceiling, which could be opened remotely. The room was stuffy and hot at the time of the inspection. The room infringed the right of the patient to be treated with respect and dignity during the tribunal process,” the inspector found.

A previous inspection of the tribunal room in the old ‘not fit for purpose’ building, found that it was bright and spacious, with natural light coming through a number of windows along one wall, and it was well ventilated. This room was now being used for training and meetings and all tribunal hearings are now held in the smaller room, according to staff.

The Mental Health Commission issued an Immediate Action Notice to address these concerns and said in a statement this week that it was “engaging with the approved centre to ensure the service is meeting the needs of patients attending a Mental Health Tribunal”.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Good luck England ! – as the poster and I screamed ….

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Mark Gardiner

Mark Gardiner, our man in Japan for the Rugby World Cup

Excitement has been building all week and even though Hiroshima isn’t a host city we are still getting a fair share of rugby fans passing through.  Since last Saturday I’ve noticed some Irish fans coming into the pub, people who have arrived to take in some of the sights of Japan and then head off to take in the some of the pool matches.

There’s been some from Wexford, Mayo, Roscommon, Kerry, Laois, Dublin and Donegal but none from Cork yet!  All of those fans will now be making their way to Yokohama which is situated right next to Tokyo and around 4 hours on the bullet train from Hiroshima.  I’m giving the first two games a miss and will wait for Ireland to move closer to my adopted home city.

The Russia game will be held in Kobe, just one hour away, so I’ll be going to that with my son Tom on the eve of his 10th birthday.  More accustomed to going to baseball games together hopefully he’ll see a try fest and enjoy a very different sporting atmosphere.

Earlier in the week, my Guinness rep walked in looking proud as punch to present me with five big Guinness posters for the rugby. As I unrolled one I couldn’t believe my eyes!  [See poster below.]   He couldn’t understand so I told him it was like having a Kirin beer poster with “good luck Korea” on it. He got the message pretty lively!

For some reason, the big story here is how much beer rugby fans drink.  They’re very wary about bars, restaurants and stadiums running out so there have been numerous articles in papers telling landlords to order twice the norm.  I had the local newspaper calling me yesterday almost begging me to tell them that I’d ordered way more beer than I normally would.

Tonight we have the opening game at 19:45 local time so hoping to get a good crowd into the pub for that.  I will try and post some photos in the next few days. A big win for Japan is probably vital in order to catapult the tournament into the mainstream consciousness so hopefully, they won’t disappoint.

If anyone reading this plans to come out, there is a great forum on Facebook “Irish Rugby World Cup Japan Forum” or you can contact me on the Molly Malone’s Hiroshima Facebook page. Fingers crossed for Sunday.

Follow Mark Gardiners World Cup Diary here and on the Galway App.

Mark Gardiner is a former Galway resident now resident in Hiroshima, Japan where he owns and operates Molly Malones Bar.

Read his weekly unique insight into the 2019 Rugby World Cup here and on the Galway App. 

Galway App Links

Apple – https://tinyurl.com/yy8b6uq7
Android – https://tinyurl.com/y5pcyunp

 

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CITY TRIBUNE

More than 70 kids under 12 in Direct Provision in Salthill

Enda Cunningham

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The Eglinton Direct Provision Centre in Salthill

Galway City Tribune – More than 70 children under the age of 12 are living in a Direct Provision Centre in Salthill, figures from the Department of Justice show.

The Eglinton can house up to 210 people who are either seeking asylum or have been granted refugee status but have been unable to secure alternative accommodation.

The statistics show that the Salthill centre – which is for families and single females – has 77 residents under the age of 18.

Of these, 35 are aged four or under; 37 are aged between 5 and 12; and five are between 13 and 17 years of age.

Direct Provision is big business for service providers – figures show the companies behind Galway City’s two centres earned more than €77m since 2000. Last year alone, the Eglinton made a profit of €520,000.

The Great Western House centre off Eyre Square is for single males only, and there are currently no people under the age of 17 resident there. That centre has a maximum occupancy of 162 people.

Between both centres in Galway, there were a total of 359 occupants at the end of July.
This is a preview only. For extensive coverage on Direct Provision in Galway, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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