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Motorists avoiding toll on Galway-Ballinasloe motorway

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Two thirds of motorists using the motorway between Galway and Ballinasloe are still veering off to avoid the toll plaza in Cappataggle.

It is understood that heavy vehicles in particular are avoiding the toll plaza because they are obviously being charged much more than private vehicles.

The AA is totally opposed to toll charges on motorways and in recent years they conducted a survey which had damning results. Motorists said that they would be willing to divert away from toll plazas because of the charges being applied.

Late last week The Connacht Tribune monitored ‘the escape route’ for the Cappataggle toll plaza and found that a phenomenal number of heavy vehicles turn off in advance of this.

The motorway was designed to ease heavy traffic between Loughrea and Ballinasloe but there are still a lot of drivers using the old N6 route to avoid the toll.

Workers from Ballinasloe working in Oranmore and Galway city are avoiding the toll because it saves them over €1,000 a year in charges. To pass through the toll in Cappataggle, it costs €1.90 for an ordinary car but it is much dearer for heavier vehicles.

The NRA and the Government have come under pressure from the operators of the toll plaza at Cappataggle to approve the tolling of slip roads so as to force motorists to use the motorway.

However, they have been told in no uncertain terms that there will be no additional tolls and it was up to themselves to try and address the situation.

It seems that there are 6,000 vehicles less than anticipated using the toll, which costs €1.90 for cars and more for larger trucks and lorries.

A spokesperson for the National Roads Authority told The Connacht Tribune that there would be no new tolls on the M6 motorway. This is despite requests from the company that operates the existing toll plaza, N6 Concessions, which is made up of two Spanish firms and one from this country.

At the moment motorists in their droves are leaving the motorway and joining the Loughrea bypass and continuing on the old N6 to Ballinasloe where they are then rejoining the motorway again.  It is all to do with the level of the charges being imposed at the toll plaza.

There have been fears that a number of jobs are at risk at the toll plaza because of the fact that motorists are avoiding paying the charge.

Connacht Tribune

Pedestrian seriously injured in Furbo hit and run

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A man in his 40s is in a serious condition in hospital following a hit and run in Furbo last night.

He was a pedestrian who was walking on the R336 road near Furbo Church, when he was hit by a car around 8.30pm.

The driver of the car failed to remain at the scene.

The road is currently closed with diversions in place while Garda Forensic Collision Investigators conduct an examination of the scene.

Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to the collision to come forward, particularly any road users who may have dash-cam footage recorded in the area between 8pm and 9pm.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Drug use in Galway at ‘frightening levels’ says top Garda

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Use of illegal drugs has reached ‘fairly frightening’ levels across the city and county, according to Galway’s top Garda.

Chief Superintendent Tom Curley said that only about 10% of the drugs in circulation in society are detected by Gardaí.

He said that there had been increases in detection of drugs for sale or supply and for simple possession in the city and county so far this year.

Cocaine in particular was an issue in Galway, he said, but increased drug use was evident in “every village and town in the country”.

In his report to the latest Galway City Joint Policing Committee, Chief Supt Curley said that there had been a 22% increase in detection of drugs for sale or supply in Galway, up 14 to 78 at the end of September.

There had been 108 incidents of drugs for simple possession, up by 15%.

The amount of cocaine seized in the first nine months of the year amounted to €538,838. The level of cannabis seized amounted to €361,872.

Ecstasy (€640) and heroin (€2,410) were also seized, according to the Garda report.

Councillor Donal Lyons (Ind) said it was a concern that cocaine had overtaken cannabis for the first time, in terms of the street value of the amounts seized.

Councillor Eddie Hoare (FG) said that the Garda Drugs Unit needed to be commended for the seizures.

Councillor Alan Cheevers (FF) said it was concerning that use of cocaine had escalated.

In response to Chair of the JPC, Councillor Niall McNelis (Lab), Chief Supt Curley said there were some instances where parents or siblings were being pursued by criminals over drug debts accrued by family members.

He added he would continue to allocate resources to the drugs problem.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Up to 20-week waiting period for youth mental health service in Galway

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Young people in Galway have highest waiting times in the state for an appointment with the Jigsaw youth mental health service.

That’s according to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell who revealed that waiting times for an appointment here are currently up to 20 weeks.

“Figures released through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people, in Galway,” she said.

“Demand for the Jigsaw service in Galway and across the State continues to grow, however, as a result youths are waiting up to 20 weeks to get an appointment. With young people from Galway currently experiencing the longest wait times at 20 weeks.

“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future.

“Yet, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk,” she added.

Deputy Farrell said that young peoples’ mental health had been adversely affected during the pandemic – with loss of schooling, sports, peer supports and even their ability to socialise with friends impacting.

“Jigsaw have experienced a 42% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears,” she said.

“There is also an element of postcode politics, that depending on where you live you may get treated quicker.  Some areas have a three-week waiting time while others are left waiting for 20 weeks.

“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed – so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.

“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution,” she concluded.

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