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CITY TRIBUNE

Nearly 200 complaints to Galway City Council about potholes

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Two pedestrians were injured when they accidentally stepped into potholes – they were among 190 complaints about potholes lodged with Galway City Council last year.

Details of the incidents were released to the Galway City Tribune following a Freedom of Information request.

One woman’s foot got stuck in a small pothole on the public road just off the footpath outside Hughes’ Opticians in Woodquay.

“She fell over hurting her ankle, leg and hip and also stinging her hands,” according to an official complaint.

Another woman reportedly damaged her ankle when stepping out of her car in front of the bottle banks at Westside Shopping Centre. She advised the local authority to make it safe “as soon as possible”.

The incidents – last January and August – were among the 190 official complaints logged with Galway City Council in 2018, which related to potholed roads.

Details of the incidents, made over the phone and by email to Customer Services at City Hall, or through the website Fixyourstreet.com, were released to the Galway City Tribune.

A concerned parent reported a child’s injury due to potholes at the rear of homes at St James’ Road in Mervue. The complainant reported how a boy “had a bad fall off his bike due to a pothole and he cut all his face and legs”. This was their third time reporting the potholes in Mervue – but the problem was getting worse.

“I also have two other kids who play out here and got bikes for Christmas but as I said before it is a health hazard and it’s only a matter of time before there is a serious accident,” the Council was warned.

Another complainant reported sustaining a twisted ankle “several times” in a large pothole at a kerb in Hollygrove, Renmore.

The vast majority of the reports of potholes were logged by motorists – many lodged complaints, while others were just alerting the Council to the damaged roads.

A complaint was lodged about the state of Rahoon Road near Buaile Beag National School. “I use this road on a daily basis accessing local sports facilities and doing a school run twice daily. In addition to local traffic there is a high volume of traffic using this road as an alternative route towards the city. The road has become a series of bumps and hollows. At low speed it would be easy to lose control of a car with a risk of injury to road users. There is also risk of damage to vehicles,” the complaint read.

Several residents’ associations contacted the Council about the state of the roads throughout the course of 2018.

Cherry Park Residents’ Association, Westbrook Residents’ Association and Cashel Mara Residents’ Association all made representations about repairs needed to roads while Chairperson of Castlegar Residents’ Association complained of potholes along Village Road in Castlegar.

There were also complaints about potholes near Castlegar primary school in Ballindooley, linking the N17 with the N84.

One motorist, whose tyre burst in Ballindooley, informed the Council of “gaping craters” that needed to be filled.

A separate complaint about the same road reported about a series of potholes and how vehicles “have to swerve across the road to avoid them causing a traffic hazard.” Cars were also said to be “swerving to avoid” a pothole outside Kelehan’s Pub in Bushypark.

Motorists were also “swerving onto the wrong side of the road” to avoid damaging their cars in potholes at the entrance to the Fionnuisce estate in Doughiska.

“Especially the potholes on the bend as drivers have to drive on the wrong side of the road coming around the bend to avoid the potholes and every day there is almost an accident at this location,” the complaint warned.

Potholes in Beach Drive and Beach Avenue in Renmore were described as “massive” and “dangerous” by one complainant.

One complaint referred to a “bump of tar” along the Headford Road, near the pedestrian lights at Tesco, that needs to be “flattened down” because “cyclists could be injured it’s so high”.

In some instances, at various points across the city, there were repeat complaints, with people claiming that potholes that had been filled previously had since returned.

An undertaker and a driving school are among the local businesses who have made official complaints about potholed city roads last year.
A local disability charity has also complained about the threat potholes poses to its service users.
Creaven Driving School, based in Corrandulla, complained to Galway City Council about potholes at Clybaun Road and Circular Road.
A driving instructor with the school claimed that one of his student’s tyres “had a blowout” during a driving test last November, which had to be cancelled. The pothole in question had been filled-in numerous times before, but “when it rains it is not visible” and “it is very dangerous”. The student had to re-sit the driving test, and the car was damaged.
O’Flaherty’s Funeral Parlour complained to the City Council about potholes on Munster Avenue.
Last November, after previous requests for potholes to be filled were not acted on, O’Flaherty’s queried whether legally it could privately fill potholes outside the funeral parlour. The complaint lodged with the local authority noted that potholes were “a danger to people attending funerals”.
Meanwhile, staff at Ability West, a charity that works for people with intellectual disability, complained to the Council about a “considerable dangerous pothole” on Snipe Avenue in Newcastle, which had the potential to cause damage to cars and busses.
“I would also like to point out that we have a number of service users that are visually impaired and could easily slip, trip and fall due to the numerous potholes. This needs to be addressed as soon as possible to avoid any injuries or damage,” the complaint read.
The gripes about potholes were among 190 logged with the local authority last year, according to documents released to Galway City Tribune under Freedom of Information (FOI).
Other businesses and customers of businesses alerted Council staff to potholes in certain areas in 2018.
Customers complained of potholes “the size of a crater” outside of McD’s Christmas Shop in Ballybane last December; while there were also reports of potholes outside the Western Hotel on Prospect Hill, Des Kavanagh Electrical on Clybaun Road and outside Kennedy and Fitzgerald Solicitors on O’Brien’s Bridge. There were several complaints about the state of the roads within Liosban Industrial Estate, which was referred by one complainant as a “dirt track that passes for a street”; Ballybane Industrial Estate and along the dual carriageway leading to Galway Racecourse in Ballybrit.

Other areas featuring in the complaints logged included Taylor’s Hill/Maunsells Road junction; Tuam Road; Glenview Drive in Riverside; Raleigh Row/Palmyra Avenue; Distillery Road; Tonabrucky Cross; Wellpark; Clybaun Road; Nuns’ Island, Ballybrit Court; Rosshill Road; Whitestrand Road; on the N6 outside Windsor Motors; outside Pearce Stadium in Salthill; Monivea Road; Knocknacarra Park; Clareview Park; Lurgan Park; Seacrest; Castlelawn Heights; Dyke Road; Monument Road; Monksfield Avenue; Bóthar an Chóiste; Lenaboy Avenue; Monalee Heights; at Dangan; Cappagh Road and elsewhere.

CITY TRIBUNE

Spanish Arch project to highlight dangers of rising sea levels and flooding

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From the Galway City Tribune – The city will now receive twice-daily illuminated reminders of the potential dangers of sea surges in a joint science and art project which had its first showing this week at the Spanish Arch.

Each day, at the times of high tides in Galway Bay – morning and evening – the Spanish Arch will be it up by the Línnte na Farraige environmental group.

The Spanish Arch has been chosen as the city location for the ‘high tide illuminations’ – the Galway site is the first of a number of coastal locations selected for the light shows.

Two Finnish artists – Timo Aho and Pekka Nittyvirta – are responsible for the bars of light that will appear on the Spanish Arch, indicating the projected rise in sea levels from future storm surges.

According to the artists, the striking visual light installations are designed to ‘open eyes and minds to potential future storm surge levels around Ireland’s coastlines’.

One of the scientists involved in the project, Dr Zoe Roseby, of Trinity College, Dublin, said that the goal of the project was to ‘provoke a dialogue around rising sea levels to demonstrate that the future is still in our own hands’.

Dr Roseby said that the Spanish Arch had been picked because it was a location of local significance to highlight the link between greenhouse gas emissions and rising sea levels.

“Línnte na Farraige aims to encourage individuals to consider how collective societal action can mitigate climate change and sea level rise, to ultimately inspire a more sustainable and resilient future,” she said.

According to Línnte na Farraige – funded by the Dept of Environment’s Creative Climate Action initiative – since sea levels were first measured in Galway in 1842, they have risen by 25 to 30 centimetres.

“In recent years, Galway has become the go-to for reporting on coastal flooding associated with storms. Storm surges occur when strong winds drive water in the direction of the coast. The impacts of these events are then exacerbated by high Spring Tides,” Línnte na Farraige stated.

Galway’s most dramatic relatively recent sea surge event occurred on January 2, 2018, when Storm Eleanor caused sea waters to rise above the dock walls leading to severe flooding along Dock Road, Merchants Road, Flood Street, Quay Street, Spanish Parade and Claddagh areas.

According to Línnte na Farraige, on that occasion, the water levels had risen by 90cms above the base of the Spanish Arch, Now their line of light – first shown last Thursday – will appear 1.9 metres above that base line.

“This indicates the predicted rise in sea levels of a similar storm surge in 2150 when sea levels have risen by one metre — a moderate climate change scenario,” Línnte na Farraige point out.

The group also state that ‘solar panels and renewably powered batteries will be used as part of the installation to power the lights, which only turn on twice a day during rising tides.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Fears that interim Emergency Department at UHG will become long term

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From the Galway City Tribune – The new ‘temporary’ Emergency Department (ED) at University Hospital Galway  is due to open over the coming weeks, the HSE has confirmed.

The HSE – in a reply to a question from Cllr John Connolly (FF) – said that the ‘interim ED’, would have a capacity of 43 patient bays, as compared to 34 in the pre-Covid ED.

However, Cllr Connolly told the Galway City Tribune that while he welcomed the news on the interim ED, he feared ‘this new temporary facility could test the meaning of the word temporary’.

“I want to see a real commitment and urgency about the provision of the new permanent ED at the hospital which is to be done in tandem with the proposed maternity and paediatric units.

“As things stand, the whole process hasn’t even come near the planning stage and is currently being looked at under a public spending evaluation process. This needs to get moved on,”” said Cllr Connolly.

At this week’s Regional Health Forum, the HSE in a written reply, told Cllr Connolly that the new ‘interim, temporary ED’ – a project started in June, 2021 – would offer an improved service as compared to the previous facility.

The temporary ED will provide 43 single closed cubicles and extra resuscitation bays providing greater dignity and privacy for patients,” the HSE stated. The organisation also confirmed that the opening date for the new ED unit was the end of September or early October [2022].

In a letter last March to the Minister for Public Expenditure, Michael McGrath, Cllr Connolly recalled that in December, 2015, the then Taoiseach Enda Kenny had highlighted the problems in ED at UHG.

“On December 1, 2015, the Taoiseach told Dáil Éireann that the Emergency Department at UHG was one of the most inadequate facilities in the country and needed to be replaced and that the staff there worked under extraordinary conditions,” Cllr Connolly outlined in the letter.

He also said that while he acknowledged the need to ensure value for money in public expenditure, this shouldn’t be done at the expense of providing adequate and appropriate levels of emergency health care for people.

“Can I specifically and purposely ask, that as Minister for Public Expenditure, you would agree to tempering the demands of the Public Spending Code in a bid to hasten the progression of the project.

“I would also ask that in conjunction with the Minister for Health you would endorse this project [the permanent ED/Maternity units] progressing to planning, procurement and construction forthwith,” Cllr Connolly stated in his letter of March 29 last.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Stars for businesses who offer proper services to disabled people

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Maggie Woods is always ready for a challenge. The latest is serving as project director of the Galway Gold Star initiative, which is designed to improve accessibility and services for disabled people at businesses in Galway City.

It will be launched this Tuesday, October 4, in the Connacht Hotel from 11am-2pm and all are invited to attend

Based on the Gold Star Disability Project developed by the HSE, this scheme will allow restaurants, shops and other businesses to be rewarded with Bronze, Silver or Gold Star awards for the services they provide for people with disabilities.

Minister of State for Disabilities Anne Rabbitte and Mayor Clodagh Higgins will lead the launch, which is being run through the Galway City Partnership (GCP), and will be headed up by Maggie, a long-time disability advocate.

She started in the new position this year.

“I am delighted to be part of the Galway City Partnership (GCP) team and get the opportunity to work on a project so close to my heart,” she said.

“Like a lot of people, I love Galway but know from first-hand experience that it’s difficult to navigate the city when you have a disability, whether you use a wheelchair or have a less-visible condition like chronic fatigue or an intellectual disability. This is a way to address the lack of services and accessibility – as well as educating people about disability issues.”

She said the goal of the Gold Star initiative was to make Galway a city that was accessible to everyone, doing that through positive reinforcement rather than focusing on the negatives.

Maggie will be working with Galway restaurants, shops and other businesses along with GCP and the Access for All Galway network, finding common ground on ways to improve access and services for disabled people.

Removing barriers for disabled people is a cause she is passionate about and has been advocating for all her life. As one of the youngest survivors in Ireland of the Thalidomide drug disaster, she has faced a lifetime of adversity and succeeded through hard work and a positive outlook. She worked most of her working life for The Irish Wheelchair Association in several capacities, in Tuam Resource Centre. She was also chairperson of the Irish Thalidomide Association and negotiated with government for people born with disabilities caused by the biggest drug catastrophe in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In addition, when she was in her 30s, she organised a fundraiser for the Galway Hospice Foundation, flying a small Cessna plane from Galway to Shannon and back, and raised €8,000.

The mother of two sons and two grandsons, she celebrated a big birthday this year with family and friends, but her fight for disabled services is not slowing down.

“I came to Galway about 38 years ago with a weekend bag and never left. I know the people of Galway will work with me in making the project a success,” she says.

The Galway Gold Star initiative, which is officially titled Access Together Galway, will be administered by GCP, using money provided by the Disability Participation and Awareness Fund approved in December 2021 by Minister Anne Rabbitte.

This initiative will follow the design of similar successful Gold Star programmes in Cashel and Tipperary towns. These support the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), which was ratified by Ireland in 2018.

The guest speaker at Tuesday’s launch will be Anne Bradshaw of HSE Tipperary, where the original Gold Star initiative was rolled out. Declan Brassil, CEO of GCP, will speak on how the Gold Star will benefit the entire Galway community, not just people with disabilities. Access for All chairperson Marian Maloney will give the closing address. Members of the Chamber of Commerce will also attend. Entertainment will be provided, along with light refreshments.

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