Irish Water Safety has called on the local authority in Galway to deploy lifeguards when heatwaves hit.
The three-week fine spell drew thousands of young and old to the beach. However, lifeguard cover was confined to the weekends only.
Seven-day cover is traditionally only organised for the 16 locations across Galway City and County where swimming is supervised in July and August.
John Leech, CEO of the Galway-based agency charged with promoting water safety nationally, said it was time for councils to devote extra resources to manning beaches and lakes when they were most in demand. Galway County Council has responsibility for lifeguards in the city and county.
When the last prolonged heatwave hit in July 2013, 13 people lost their lives to drowning in a fortnight.
During 15 days of this period of hot weather, 10 people tragically drowned, three of them in or on the border of Galway – one fisherman in Clifden and two swimmers on Lough Derg.
“We’d like to see lifeguards to be in a position to be deployed when we get hot weather in late May and June,” said Mr Leech.
“Many of the lifeguards are students, so we have to be realistic that they may be doing exams, but we think Galway should, if possible, follow Clare County Council who put lifeguards on duty during the week 3.30-7.30pm. It was in response to calls from councillors as a result of the two boys drowning in the quarry.”
Two lifeguards are on duty at weekends in June and September and daily in July and August in 16 locations – six of them in Galway City.
A spokeswoman for Galway County Council said the budget for the Lifeguard Service for the City and County for 2018 is €210,000 and is based on the scheduled working hours of the lifeguards.
“We would have budgeted for this schedule and it’s approved by councillors. That’s not to say we wouldn’t consider extending the service.
“Health and safety is always paramount but you could have a wet day today and tomorrow it’s lovely. I know this has been a three-week spell but you have to bear in mind the lifeguards are young and in college and school so it may not be feasible.”
Galway City Council contributes at least half of the cost of the service, which is managed by Galway County Council. Its Water Safety Development Officer Shane Coogan was unavailable for comment.
Cllr Peter Keane has been a vocal critic of the lack of lifeguards during fine weather and busy beach periods.
He has previously called for the system of rostering lifeguards to be reviewed so that a service was in place when the fine weather warranted it.
John Leech reiterated the advice from the safety body for people to swim only within their depth as figures show that 62% of all drownings occur at inland water sites where swimmers venture out in deep water.
Galway family’s light show adds magic to Christmas
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Carrick Family Light Show returns tonight (Friday) as 70,000 lights are illuminated in aid of a worthy local charity.
The man behind the lights spectacular, James Carrick, says test runs this week have proven successful and the family is ready to mark another Christmas in style.
“This is our fourth Christmas doing it. We started in 2019, but Covid was around for the last two years so it will be great this year not having to worry about that so much,” says James, who has spent the last few weeks carefully rebuilding the show at his home in Lurgan Park, Renmore.
He’s added “a few bits and pieces this year” – his brother buying the house next door has provided him a ‘blank canvas’ to extend.
Over the past three years, the show has raised almost €30,000 for local charities and James hopes to build on that this year – offering the light show for free, as always, and giving the opportunity to donate if people wish to do so.
The show runs nightly from 6.30pm, Monday to Saturday, with an extra kids show on Sundays at 5pm at 167 Lurgan Park (H91 Y17D). Donations can be made at the shows or by searching ‘idonate Carrick Family Light Show’ online.
‘Chaos’ for Christmas as Martin junction works delayed again
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists attempting to get into Galway are facing a nightmare before Christmas as continued delays to the works at the Martin roundabout create traffic chaos on the east side of the city.
Anger over the controversial project to remove the roundabout at Galway Clinic intensified this week as the completion date was pushed out to February – nearly a year after works began and six months later than the supposed deadline.
Local councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) told the Galway City Tribune that he had lost all confidence in the Transport Department in the City Council and hit out at their “outsourcing the problem” to private contractors.
He said despite repeated representations from him, the local authority was refusing to take responsibility for the bedlam caused by the works, which he said had resulted in “three minor collisions in the last five weeks”.
“The bottom line is that this has been an absolute shambles and I’ve lost all faith in senior officials in City Hall. When I raised the issue again this week, I was accused of looking for newspaper headlines – they will not take responsibility,” said the City East councillor.
“It’s like an obstacle course up there, and now they’re saying February for completion. I’ve no confidence it will even be done by then – they’re out of their depth. If you look at what they’re saying, they say they’ll be doing the surfacing until February,” continued Cllr Cheevers, anticipating that works could still be ongoing next March or April.
In a statement issued by contractors Fox Building Engineers Ltd and Galway City Council, it was claimed that “supply chain issues” had impacted severely on the project.
Motorists this week reported delays of up to an hour just to travel the short distance from Briarhill Shopping Centre as far as the Doughiska Road-Dublin Road junction, a distance of less than 2km.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the December 2 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Councillors rubber stamp ‘temporary’ helipad after nine years in place
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Health Service Executive (HSE) came under fire over the ‘temporary’ helipad serving University Hospital Galway at a meeting to finalise the Galway City Development Plan for 2023-29.
Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, made a point of publicly highlighting his dissatisfaction with the HSE, calling on them to urgently “regularise” the planning permission for the helipad.
BY ANDREW HAMILTON
Speaking on the issue, Cllr Frank Fahy (FG) said that he mistrusted the HSE’s proposal concerning the helipad, saying that previous promises about the site had not been kept.
Currently, University Hospital Galway operates the helipad to transport medical emergencies on Council-owned land in Shantalla – it has been used for past nine years, despite the HSE saying it would be used for six months.
The temporary structure, the busiest helipad in Ireland, transports patients from as far north as Donegal to the hospital.
Councillors voted to change the Galway City Development Plan to provide for a helipad at this location but urged the HSE to normalise the planning permission at the site and to provide compensation to the local community for the loss of a section of the park.
Mr McGrath said that he wouldn’t “wait forever” for the HSE to bring the site in line with the planning laws.
Last month marked the ninth anniversary of when the Saolta University Hospital Group gave a commitment to the people of Shantalla about the public land it borrowed.
Tony Canavan, the then Chief Operating Officer, and now CEO of Saolta, said that the land would be used to accommodate a helipad at the rear of UHG for six months only.
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the December 2 edition of the Galway City Tribune where there is extensive coverage of rezoning decisions under the City Development Plan. You can support our journalism and buy a digital edition HERE.