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Mercy girls unhappy with proposed amalgamation



Unrest is growing over the move to the Presentation Secondary School site following an amalgamation with the Mercy School in the absence of concrete assurances that adequate facilities will be funded by the Education Department.

Students of the Mercy School in Newtownsmyth in the heart of the city have added their voices to the debate over the amalgamation, claiming the move made no sense financially or practically.

In a letter from the Mercy Transition Year students, the girls questioned where the money would come from to build facilities such as a gym, technology room and a kitchen for hot food, which the Presentation site does not contain.

“We believe with the spacious area of our school grounds, it is obvious when looking at both sites by the areas of both buildings that the Mercy stands out to be the most capable of facilitating a medium sized school of 500 students.”

A 2009 report by consultants investigating a possible merger recommended that the school should be located on the Mercy site. In anticipation of this, the school undertook a range of work including rewiring of the whole school, installation of improved fire alarm, exterior insulation, facade replastering, a resurfaced car park, new showers, upgraded catering facilities, new technology room and refurbished computer rooms – all paid for by the State.

The patron of the schools, CEIST (Catholic Education, an Irish Schools Trust) insists, however, that only one survey of the two schools ever took place and that was the independent study that was commissioned by CEIST in 2014. That study identified the Presentation site as the most suitable for the amalgamated school.

The survey found that two-thirds of the Mercy’s teaching spaces were 9% smaller than recommended in Department of Education guidelines, the gym was too small for 500 students and there was a 12% deficit in toilet facilities, compared to a 60% surplus in the Presentation.

While there was no gym or adequate technology rooms, the report found the Presentation site had adequate space for an expansion, while the Mercy site is restricted due to its size.

The Presentation site was recommended as it “requires the least amount of re-modelling of the existing structure and has the potential for expansion to accommodate a combined curriculum and additional teaching spaces”.

Dr Marie Griffin, CEO of Ceist, said students could be assured that facilities would be provided in the Presentation site to ensure they can access the full curriculum.

“CEIST, as patron, will engage with the Department of Education and Skills in relation to the provision of any identified deficits in the site. Any changes that are taking place now are for the long-term benefit of girls’ education in the Galway City area and will ensure a strong, Catholic voluntary secondary school in the combined Mercy and Presentation traditions,” she wrote to the Galway City Tribune.

However in response to a question tabled in the Dáil, Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan would not give a commitment on funding any extension of the facilities.

The reason for the amalgamation is due to a downturn in enrolments and is scheduled to be fully completed by September 2016.

Connacht Tribune

A Moycullen win would add badly needed spice to football’s big day



Conor Reddington of Annaghdown and Tuam Stars' Adam Carton in action during the North Board Minor B football final at Tuam Stadium on Saturday. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

BEFORE a ball was kicked in this year’s Galway senior championship, the smart money would have been on champions Corofin, Tuam Stars, Salthill/Knocknacarra and Mountbellew/Moylough making it to the semi-finals if they managed to keep out of each other’s way on the road to the penultimate stage off the title race.

Unfortunately, for a Salthill team which, in any event, didn’t scale their expected heights this year, they came up against the champions in the quarter-finals where the Seasiders’ challenge was dismissed in convincing fashion. It was business as usual for Corofin who remain odds on to claim a record-breaking eighth consecutive title.

With Tuam Stars edging out Bearna after extra-time, a Paul Kelly goal helping Moycullen get the better of St James’, and Mountbellew/Moylough powering home against 14-man Killannin, it means that three of last year’s semi-finalists are back seeking a place in the Galway decider this weekend. Mountbellew/Moylough are the odd ones out having fallen to Corofin in the 2019 quarter-finals.

Val Daly’s troops will need the performance of the lives to overturn club’s football’s dominant power, especially as they continue to field without county player John Daly – a son of their manager. Of course, they are not without a chance and if the likes of Michael Daly, Matthew Barrett, Eoin Finnerty, Eoin Ryan and Barry McHugh hit the ground running, they could give Corofin a searching time.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Greens see red on gold rush



Opposition is intensifying to the prospect of a licence being awarded to Canadian gold prospectors planning to explore the heart of Connemara.

Environmental campaigners have warned of the dangers of awarding a prospecting licence to Toronto-based MOAG to mine for gold and silver in land around Roundstone, Ballyconneely and Ballynahinch.

They claim the exploration could devastate water supplies, tourism, wildlife – and also led to tensions in the local community.

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton has indicated he intends to grant a prospecting licence to the company to explore for the valuable minerals in townlands in Ballynahinch Barony.

The licence allows the holder to explore for mineral deposits, and does not authorise mining of any materials that are found – that requires further licensing.

And Minister Bruton’s Department insists that the activities permitted under this licence are “non-invasive” and “of minimal environmental impact”.

However, campaigners have warned of the dangers mining can have on Connemara, and have urged the public to object before July 6.

See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Controversial Ballinasloe landfill prepares for closure



The Galway dump that forced householders to close their windows during the hottest of summers will take in waste for the last time during the middle of this year.

The pong the emanated from the landfill site in Kilconnell will be no more as it will cease accepting waste by the end of June next year.

Ballinasloe area councillors were told how Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site following the liquidation of the former operators Greenstar.

The Council agreed to accept 300,000 tons of municipal waste over a three-year period and this will come to an end by the middle of next year, after which the dump will be capped and closed the following year.

Director of Services Jim Cullen informed a meeting of Ballinasloe Municipal Council that following the closure of the dump, there would be long term care of the site to ensure that there would be no adverse environmental issues.

When Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site, an allocation of €300,000 was provided by the Department of the Environment for local projects.

Of this, €120,000 has been given to the area engineer to spend at his discretion and the remaining €180,000 has been dispersed equally among the six Ballinasloe councillors – resulting in each getting €30,000 to spend on projects in their area.

It is expected that a further €300,000 will be allocated to organisations within a certain radius of the landfill site and a committee made up of Cllr Aidan Donohue (FG), Cllr Dermot Connolly (SF) and Cllr Timmy Broderick (Ind) to decide how this fund will be dispersed.

For years, the dump in Kilconnell caused annoyance for local residents because of the smells emanating from the site and many householders say that it is still a major problem.

Cllr Michael Finnerty warned about the possibility of a run-off of leachate – a liquid that drains from landfill sites that can cause pollution – from the site into the future.

He said that he attended a meeting in Ballinasloe in which residents expressed concern about a leachate run-off from the old dump in Poolboy which has been closed down for years.

He was assured by Mr Cullen that the situation in Poolboy was being continually monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency but he would investigate these claims.

With regard to the closure of the dump in Kilconnell, Cllr Aidan Donohue said that he was not convinced about the ongoing maintenance of the site into the future.

He said when the landfill site in New Inn was closed many years ago, the Council just walked away and left the site in an unacceptable state.

The Fine Gael councillor was referring to suggestions that the Kilconnell site might have future potential and may be an asset but he cited what happened in New Inn when he said that it was just abandoned.

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