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Connacht Tribune

Locals demand action on dilapidated Shannon Oaks Hotel

Declan Tierney

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The billionaire owners of the Shannon Oaks Hotel in Portumna – lying vacant since it was destroyed by fire in 2011 – have been asked to either redevelop the property themselves or sell it on to someone who will.

The Comer Group have come in for criticism for making promises late last year to reconstruct the hotel – and still not making any progress.

The Shannon Oaks Action Group said that the hotel’s restoration was necessary for the economic benefit of the town – and that Portumna had suffered financially from its absence.

The group have called on the Comers to make some moves towards the redevelopment of the hotel as it was an essential asset to the town.

Businessman Paul Dillon, who is Chairman of the Action Group, said that the owners of the Shannon Oaks gave a commitment back in October 2018 that they would be rebuilding on the site by the end of the first quarter of this when they had finished the refurbishment of the Shearwater Hotel in Ballinasloe which they also own.

He said that the final design for the redevelopment of the Shannon Oaks and an artist’s impression of what the hotel would look like.

“As we near the end of the first quarter of 2019, there is no sign of the builders or even the communication of the builders arriving on site for the rebuilding project.

“We would see this as not a good sign. Portumna is now going into its eighth year without a hotel and the Comer Property Group have the owned the hotel since 2015.

“Many promises over the four years of ownership have been made on the hotel being rebuilt but each time the company has let the region down.

“We fully expect the Comer Property Group to fulfil their recent promise made in October and November 2018 and start the rebuilding in the next couple of weeks as promised.

“We are hoping the Comers do fulfil their promise that they announced the redevelopment of the hotel with much fanfare and they even the attached pictures of what the new hotel wold look like,” Mr Dillon said.

He added that the only option left for the Comer Group is to either build the hotel or sell the property.

Luke Comer told The Connacht Tribune that the plans are to rebuild the hotel but he recently got a quote of €7 million to carry out the development which he said was excessive.

Local Councillor Jimmy McClearn has also expressed disappointment at the lack of progress on the hotel and described it as a necessary development for the economy of the town.

“It was generally hoped that work would have commenced by now and there is disappointment that this has not happened. And more concerning is the fact that there is not time scale for the works to commence,” Cllr McClearn added.

The Comers, originally from Glenamaddy, own some 40 hotels across the world including eight in this country.

Connacht Tribune

Council staff under pressure from worsening flooding

Enda Cunningham

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A lack of local authority outdoor staff available to deal with the huge rainfall level over the past week has led to the closure of roads around County Galway, it was claimed this week.

At a meeting of Galway County Council on Monday, a senior local authority official admitted that staff have been ‘stretched’.

Rising water tables and heavy rainfall has resulted in road closures around the county, but according to the Council, there are no houses under threat at the moment.

Iarnród Éireann has also introduced bus transfers on the Galway-Limerick line because of rising water levels at Kiltartan.

The volume of rainfall resulted in road closures, while flooding on the N83 (the old N17) between Tuam and Galway resulted in three-mile tailbacks at Two Mile Ditch – journey times were more than two hours in some cases.

Cllr Joe Byrne told the Council meeting this week that there are not enough outdoor staff on the ground to keep the water tables at a level that would not require roads to be closed.

He was supported by Cllr Jim Cuddy, who said that workers with spades and shovels were required to keep the water tables under control and there was a need to increase outdoor staff at this time of year.

The Independent councillor said that he had heard of some people being stuck in traffic for three hours as they approached the city from the Headford Road and Tuam Road directions.

However, Council Director of Services for Infrastructure, Jim Cullen, said that all of the outdoor staff vacancies had been filled.

Mr Cullen explained that the number of outdoor staff employed by the Council was dependent on the roads budget made available to the local authority on an annual basis.

Council Senior Executive Engineer Damien Mitchell explained that their staff had been stretched over recent days in what where very difficult conditions.

“Nobody has been found wanting. It is not easy,” Mr Mitchell admitted.

(Picture shows a generator being brought to a house at Cloonacauneen this week to help pump flood waters. PHOTO: JOE O’SHAUGHNESSY)
This is a preview only. To read extensive coverage of the flooding around the county (including photographs), see this week’s Connacht Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here.

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Connacht Tribune

Council pays €3m for land for social housing in Claregalway

Declan Tierney

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Galway County Council has forked out almost €3 million – more than €400,000 per acre – for development land in Claregalway which it has earmarked for social and affordable housing.

At a local authority meeting this week, some councillors expressed disbelief at the amount paid by the Council for the 7.2 acres.

Local elected representatives expressed frustration and annoyance that they had not been made aware of the purchase until after the deal was done.

Director of Services for Housing, Michael Owens, told a meeting of the County Council on Monday that the lands had been acquired on the open market in the townland Droim na Gaoithe and this will be development for social and affordable housing. He said that a valuer had been engaged for this purpose.

An irate Cllr Jim Cuddy said that as the most local elected representative, he was not aware of the land acquisition. He said that he was not aware of when it was purchased or how much had been paid for it.

The Independent councillor said that the population increase experienced in Claregalway in recent years required the provision of a playground, while he added that there was an urgent need for additional cemetery space as there were just two plots remaining in the existing graveyard.

“It is crazy that more than €406,000 an acre was spent on land for a housing scheme [affordable housing] that doesn’t exist. The County Council would have serious questions to ask if this matter came before a Dáil Public Accounts Committee,” Cllr Cuddy said.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. Buy a digital edition of the paper here.

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Connacht Tribune

Councillor hits out at Travellers over stranded horses

Declan Tierney

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The horses stranded off the Headford Road last weekend.

A county councillor has accused members of the Traveller community of abandoning their horses to flood waters along the Headford Road – which led to a rescue operation being staged over the weekend.

It was proposed that the N84 become a ‘horse exclusion zone’ in the interest of safety and animal welfare and that there are strict land ownership requirements before horses are allowed graze there.

According to Cllr James Charity, a major voluntary effort was put in place to rescue animals that were stranded in flood waters along the main Headford Road.

“It is sickening to see the number of horses that have been abandoned and the fault lies with the Traveller community who do not want to take responsibility for this awful situation.”

The Independent councillor, along with Galway Fire and Rescue Service, Council wardens and local volunteers were involved in a major rescue operation last weekend on the Curraghline when the River Clare burst its banks in several locations.

He told fellow councillors that a meeting was organised to discuss animal welfare along the Headford Road and while the Galway Traveller Movement were invited, they failed to attend.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article and extensive coverage of flooding (including photos) around the county, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. Buy a digital edition of the paper 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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