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Connacht Tribune

Long-awaited ‘Bish’ relocation takes step forward



The long-awaited move of St Joseph’s College (the Bish) from Nuns’ Island took a step forward this week as a design team was appointed to draw up plans for what will be a 1,000-pupil school on a site in Dangan, adjacent to the NUI Galway campus – with the move expected to take place by 2025.

Principal John Madden said this was the first step in a long journey, but all at the school were “absolutely delighted” that plans to move to a site big enough for its 760 pupils were moving forward.

“The design team is talking about probably five years [before a new school opens] because it will take time to get everything in line – they must first identify a number of designs. They then have to be brought to the Department of Education to sanction it, and that could take up to a year.

“Then it must go for planning permission and that process takes time,” said Mr Madden.

The Bish was a flagship school for the Patrician Brothers worldwide, he said, and while it would be moving out of the city centre after 158 years, they would be ensuring to take the school’s long-held tradition of excellence in education with them.

The school had outgrown the 1970s-build in Nuns’ Island and in order to adapt to the needs of students in the future, by expanding subject choice and offering on-site sports facilities, a move was necessary, said Mr Madden.

“Because of a lack of space, we haven’t been able to offer our students practical subjects. We are awaiting temporary accommodation so we can offer Home Economics and Technology to our first years next year and we have been able to offer Art, Music, Spanish and Graphics for this years’ first years.

“It is great for students to get as broad an education as is possible and to enable them to make choices, rather than be confined to a limited number of subjects. That has worked well for us in the past, but we want to offer choice in the future,” he said.

Plans for the Bish to move to Dangan were first mooted 20 years ago and despite a major setback in 2005 – when city councillors voted not to rezone lands necessary for the development – a change to the City Development Plan in 2017 has enabled plans to progress.

A land-swap is understood to be the basis of proposals, with NUIG to take ownership of the site at Nuns’ Island if the move goes ahead. NUIG and Galway City Council are currently engaged in developing a regeneration masterplan for the wider Nuns’ Island area.

Meanwhile, Mr Madden said Covid-19 had put in focus the lack of space at their current site, with social distancing requiring the setting up of additional classrooms on- and off-site.

“Up to three weeks ago, we were operating from four buildings around the city. We’ve since been able to add four classrooms on-site by converting an old bus garage, a bike shed and a weights room. We’re also leasing the Presentation Building on Presentation Road for our sixth year students.

“We had Nuns’ Island theatre on the go for a few weeks too, and we have been using the monastery building across the road [from the school] for a number of years, which had allowed us to grow our student numbers up to 700. The building we’re in was built for about 500 students,” said Mr Madden.

Connacht Tribune

Thousands on waiting list for student accommodation in Galway



The student housing crisis is ‘the worst it’s ever been’ – with thousands on waiting lists for rooms; hundreds relying on hostels and friends’ sofas; and countless more facing deferral or dropping out altogether.

The President of NUI Galway’s Students’ Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, told the Connacht Tribune that students had been left in a desperate situation, as she called for mass protests to have the issue addressed.

According to Ms Nic Lochlainn, 3,000 students were currently on the waiting lists for NUIG’s on-campus accommodation – Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village – with around 500 in line for any bed that might come up in the Westwood.

“Gort na Coiribe and Dunaras have told us their waiting lists are well into the hundreds too. I’ve only got to contact two of the hostels around town, but Kinlay and Snoozles have almost 200 students between them already – and they’re expecting more.

“The first years haven’t even arrived yet, and on top of all that, you have people in B&Bs and staying on their friends’ sofas,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn.

Pressure on the student rental market had been building for years, she said, but it had gone off the cliff edge this year as a perfect storm was created by increased student numbers and reduced bed availability.

“[Minister for Further and Higher Education] Simon Harris created new places on courses this year and talked about maximum access to education . . . I’m not sure how that works for students who are homeless.

“Because there weren’t many students around last year, some private landlords might have moved on. There was no new purpose-built accommodation delivered, and then Simon Harris creates new places with no new beds,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn of the causes of this year’s problems.”

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Government asked to “do everything” to ensure Intel chooses Oranmore as base



The Taoiseach and Tánaiste will be asked to do “everything in their power” to ensure technology giant Intel selects Oranmore as the location for its new microchip manufacturing plant – which could create 10,000 jobs and transform the West of Ireland economy.

The 540-acre site is owned by the Defence Forces and was selected by IDA Ireland as the preferred site for the company’s new EU ‘chip’ base.


Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany and Intel confirmed to Taoiseach Micheál Martin that the site is under consideration.

Galway East TD Ciarán Cannon said the development would be “transformative” and would be Intel’s largest microchip manufacturing plant in the world.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District this week, councillors backed a proposal from Cllr Liam Carroll to write to Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar to urge them to push forward the plan.

“This would be a game-changer, not just for Oranmore but for the whole of Connacht. Imagine 10,000 directly employed at some stage in the future, and the spinoff from that,” he said.

The Oranmore site is reported to have been selected ahead of three other locations in Ireland.

It is on Intel’s short-list for the proposed project, which would involve building eight factory modules on a single campus at the site off the M6 motorway, northeast of Oranmore, the newspaper reported.

The American multinational tech company has whittled down its short-list to 10 finalists; Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany.

The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that if it proceeds, the new Oranmore ‘mega-fab’ would dwarf Intel’s existing site in Leixlip, which employs almost 5,000.

Galway East TD, Ciaran Cannon (FG) said: “It would put Galway on the map internationally as a place for high-tech investment and it would serve to rebalance the economic imbalance that exists in our country where all of the weight is on the east coast.

“The IDA has a formula where every one new job created in that industry creates about eight or nine more jobs downstream in terms of the supply chain and services. They’re saying 10,000 jobs on site – twice the population of Athenry – on one campus and then another 80-90,000 jobs off site. The figures are phenomenal, mind boggling,” said Deputy Cannon.

The demand for the facility arose during Covid-19 when the supply chain between Asia and Europe broke down.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Fraudsters ‘spoof’ Galway Garda Station’s phone number



Fraudsters replicated the phone number of Galway Garda Station and used it to call a local woman to demand money.

Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that the number ‘091 538000’ was somehow used by criminals who attempted to extract money – in the form of the online currency Bitcoin – from the victim.   Despite the phone call appearing to come from the Garda station at Mill Street, the woman became suspicious and reported it to Gardaí.

Sgt Walsh said it was the latest in a series of ‘spoofing’ phone calls to have occurred this year.

Spoofing is where fraudsters change the caller ID to ring unsuspecting members of the public to try to extract money or personal information off them.

He said that the number of spoofing incidents reported to Galway Gardaí has more than doubled in the past year.

“It is top of my agenda,” he said.

He pointed out that criminals can obtain a ‘ready to go’ phone and SIM card, relatively cheaply, and it was “very difficult” for Gardaí to trace the caller.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more details on fraud figures in Galway, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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