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Mercy school may be sold off following ‘merger’



The Government has definitively ruled out funding a gym or technology room for the amalgamated Mercy and Presentation school, putting the onus firmly back on the patron to cough up for the facilities.

During a debate in the Seanad, the junior minister in the Department of Education, Damien English, said there was a policy in place to prioritise funding for teaching facilities.

He suggested that money raised from either the sale or rent of the Mercy building once it is empty could be used to fund resources such as gyms and computer suites.

“It is difficult to see how the Department could give a commitment on the gym. Resources are tight and the majority is being used to try to fund additional accommodation for new pupils so as to meet demographic demands throughout the country. This is the policy currently,” he told the Seanad.

“The Department has been trying to maximise accommodation for new pupils throughout the country. The majority of funding, which is taxpayers’ money, is being used to build new classrooms as opposed to other facilities.”

When pushed by Senator Fidelma Healy Eames on the importance of not leaving the pupils without a gym, Deputy English said now was the time to have a conversation about whether the other site can release resources to fund a gym.

“I presume that when the two schools are being amalgamated, there might be an opportunity to realise some finance from the site that will not be used. It is a local issue, but this possibility should be considered. There will be an opportunity to use the site for something else that could generate an income that could contribute to a gym.”

The Presentation site has been chosen by the patron of the two schools, CEIST (Catholic Education, an Irish Schools Trust) as the site where the new amalgamated school will be located.

However, that has angered some parents and students from the Mercy, who insist their facilities are superior to those in the Presentation, which has no gym, hot food kitchen, performance hall or modern technology room. The school uses the pool in NUIG, the rowing club and a local hall for its sporting needs.

Dr Marie Griffin, CEO of Ceist, said last week that students could be assured that facilities will 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.”

The Presentation site was recommended by independent consultants 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”.

Senator Healy Eames said the department must re-evaluate its policy of not funding gyms, which was forcing schools like the Presentation and Salerno in Salthill to “beg and scrape” for sporting facilities outside of the school grounds.


Person taken to UHG following collision near Barna



Galway Bay fm newsroom – A person has been taken to UHG following a road traffic crash near Barna.

The incident, which involved a truck and a car, happened this afternoon on the R336 near the church.

Emergency services are at the scene and the road is currently closed.

One person has been taken to UHG, but the extent of their injuries is not known.

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Taste of Galway at ‘Flavours of Ireland’



Joanne Nunn, Kuoni Tumlare; Mark Henry, Tourism Ireland; and David Keane, DK Connemara Oysters, at Flavours of Ireland 2022.

Some 60 tourism companies from Ireland attended ‘Flavours of Ireland’ 2022 in London last week – including Connemara Wild Escapes, DK Connemara Oysters and Killary Fjord Boat Tours.

‘Flavours’ is Tourism Ireland’s annual B2B tourism workshop, where tourism companies from Ireland meet and do business with top global inbound tour operators.

Now in its 20th year, ‘Flavours’ took place in the Guildhall, in the City of London, and was attended by around 100 global inbound tour operators who deliver business from all over the world, including the United States, Mainland Europe, Asia, Australasia and Africa.

‘Flavours’ provides an excellent opportunity for the participating tourism providers from Galway and Ireland to highlight and sell their tourism product and build valuable relationships with the key decision-makers in attendance.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Planning Regulator wants Galway City Council U-turn on Development Plan



From the Galway City Tribune – The Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) has asked Galway City Council to roll back material alterations to the new City Development Plan proposed by councillors.

In July, elected members voted through a raft of changes to zonings in the Draft City Development Plan 2023-29, which went out on public display.

But the Planning Regulator has now warned City Hall that many of the proposed changes do not comply with the OPR’s recommendations, and are contrary to national planning guidelines.

The OPR specifically highlighted problems with proposals to rezone as residential land deemed at risk of flooding.

Anne Marie O’Connor, Deputy Regulator, wrote to the Council’s Planning Department outlining the OPR’s fresh advice on the changes to the draft plan proposed and approved by councillors.

The draft plan will come before elected members again this month.

Councillors will be asked to row back on some of their previous material alterations, which ran contrary to advice of the OPR.

Ms O’Connor said the OPR welcomed many of the changes made by the City Council in its draft plan. She said, however, that the OPR “has a number of outstanding concerns relating to the response of the planning authority to its recommendations and to a number of proposed material alterations relating to the zoning of lands”.

These relate to changes that conflict with national and regional objectives for compact growth; with legislative requirements regarding climate action and core strategies; and with rezoning land at risk of flooding.

The OPR highlighted a dozen or more material alterations by councillors that are “not consistent” with the National Planning Framework for compact growth.

These include re-zoning of land from agricultural or recreational and amenity to residential.

The changes voted on by councillors, the OPR noted, were done against the advice of the Council’s Chief Executive Brendan McGrath.

The OPR said the changes proposed by councillors represented a “piecemeal approach” to zoning and were “inconsistent” with national policy.

These comments related to proposed rezoning of land at Rahoon; Dublin Road; Quarry Road, Menlo; Ballindooley; off Circular Road; Menlo village; Roscam and Barna Woods.

The OPR also raised “significant concerns” over five material alterations proposed for residential zonings of land at Western Distributor Road; Terryland; Menlo Village; Headford Road and Barna Woods which are located within flood zones.

The approach by councillors “may place people and property at unnecessary risk from future flood events”, the OPR warned.

Ms O’Connor told planners that if the draft plan ignores the OPR advice or is at odds with its recommendations, the Council Chief Executive must inform the OPR in writing the reasons for doing so.

Save Roscam Peninsula in a 33-page submission to the draft plan echoed many of the concerns outlined by the OPR.

The Council has pencilled in four dates in November and December to approve the plan.

It will meet on November 21, 24 and 28 and December 1 when material alterations will be voted on individually.
This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune, November 4. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

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