An objection to the renewal of the drinks licence for the refurbished Spanish Arch Hotel – now known as the Residence Hotel – was dismissed at a special sitting of Galway District Court last week.
The challenge was brought on behalf of PJ and Mary McDonagh, who own the adjoining McDonagh’s restaurant at 22 Quay Street.
They objected over issues with the fire escape and that planning permission had not been adhered to.
However, senior counsel for the new licence holders, Constance Cassidy, said that the court was not entitled to entertain such an application unless 12-months’ notice was given.
“The two statutory grounds for objection which they are entitled to rely on, relate to the good character of the licensee, and peaceful and orderly conduct in the last year,” she said.
“There is an exception, if the premises is unfit for licence, but a full year’s notice must be given.
“We absolutely dispute the right of way, we own it entirely, these are not grounds that the court can consider (the matter).”
She said that the McDonagh’s used to own the premises in question; it was subsequently sold by public auction in December 2016, and Ms Cassidy’s client acquired it from a third party, by way of a lease, in January. An ad-intrim transfer was granted to the new licensees by Judge Mary Fahy in February.
“The previous licence holder was a receiver, Aidan Murphy, and at no time when he traded was there any objection to his character or the running of the business,” she advised Judge Alan Mitchell.
“You have to be confined to those two issues.”
She described the challenge as “an abuse of process” and that the objectors had other remedies to fall back on, such as the Circuit Court and the planning authority.
“But he leaves himself open to costs,” she added. “My application is to dismiss the objection.”
Barrister for the McDonagh’s, Alban Carney, said that the main issue was the unfitness of the premises.
“These are adjoining properties, in 1995 we granted a right of way for access to the fire escape in the event of a fire in the hotel,” he said.
“For some reason, the receiver decided to construct a new steel staircase which encroaches on our property. This annoyed my client. It was not discussed with my client, and it raises a fire issue.
“There was a badly-drafted agreement in 1995. To regularise this, we should go to the Circuit Court, but my client is anxious to bring this matter to a head, so instructed us to object.
“I can’t level any allegation against their character, except that people can step out onto my staircase for smoking – hopefully not to avoid Gardaí, if they raid the place.”
He said that the staircase leads to a private courtyard at the rear of his client’s premises, and he expressed concern that they would face prosecution for being ‘found on’ their property, in the event of a raid.
On a point of information, Judge Mitchell asked Ms Cassidy if the Gardaí would be required to give the 12-month notice time if they also had an objection.
“Yes, but they can prosecute me for not operating in accordance with the licensing laws,” she replied, adding that a Fire Officer could also close them down.
The Judge proceeded to dismiss the objection, as he said that the objection had recourse under different avenues, but that the District Court was not one of them.
However, noting that the Fire Officer had stated that there were two outstanding matters that needed attention before the refurbished hotel could be granted an annual drinks licence, the Judge adjourned that matter to May 2 to ensure that these are completed.
Galway City Council to ‘review’ Kirwan junction
Councillors are demanding proof that the €5 million spent to transform Kirwan Roundabout into a signalised junction was money well spent – blasting the new junction as having created long delays and worsening rat-running.
A meeting of the local authority last week heard that while there was a general acceptance there would be ‘teething problems’ with the traffic-light junction after it became operational in July, ongoing issues were continuing to draw the ire of road users and local residents.
Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind) said he was one of five councillors on the previous Council to initially vote against the removal of the roundabout, based on fears that it would increase traffic through local residential areas – a fear that had been realised.
“What changes have been needed to be done since it went live,” asked the former Mayor, indicating that there had been little improvement.
Cllr Alan Cheevers (FF) said he understood that enhancement works were being done, but more were required.
“A lot of drivers are avoiding it and its driving traffic through the likes of Terryland Business Park. The Tuam Road is now gridlocked,” he said, calling on the Council to do a “PR exercise” to encourage drivers back to Kirwan.
Cllr Clodagh Higgins (FG) said the junction continued to confuse people and suggested that “overhead hanging signs” would be of assistance.
Green Party Councillor Niall Murphy said when the roundabout was slated for removal, it was promised that delays would be reduced by 25% and rat-running by 90% – but as yet, no evidence had been provided to show this.
“We need to put some science on this.
“The rat-running has moved to Dyke Road and there are some sections of that road where there are no footpaths, so it is quite dangerous for pedestrians,” said Cllr Murphy.
Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the meeting he believed there was a silent majority that were satisfied with the new junction.
He said that the junction’s ‘go live’ date was July 19, which coincided with the reopening of many parts of society that had been in lockdown due to Covid, and that had contributed to additional traffic.
“The first two objectives were to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety, and those objectives have been achieved.
“There will be a post project review – that is something that we always do and I would be happy to bring that back to Council for its consideration,” said Mr Finn.
Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath confirmed that review was set to get underway.
“It will go through the various elements and if issues arise following the review, they will be addressed,” he said.
Thieves target cars as owners unload shopping bags
Galway shoppers have been advised by Gardaí not to leave their vehicles unlocked or unattended as they bring their shopping into their homes.
This follows reports in the Newcastle area of opportunist thieves ‘striking’ as the shopping bags were being moved into houses.
One resident told the Galway City Tribune that the thieves waited until the person had taken a bag of shopping from their cars to bring into their home.
“This gives the thieves a minute or two to have a quick look in the car – what they seem to be looking for are purses, bags or wallets that are left behind in the car,” the resident stated.
He added that some of local residents had notices two ‘youngish lads’ – possibly in their late teens or early 20s – hanging around the Newcastle Park Road area over the past week or two.
“I just think that people need to be on their guard for this kind of opportunist theft. They just wait until the driver goes inside the house with the shopping and before they come back out, they do a quick search of the car,” he said.
Galway Garda Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that opportunist thieves would always be ‘on the look out for a handy theft’.
“What I would advise is that either have someone to keep an eye on the car when the shopping is being removed – or else lock the car each time, and don’t leave any cash or valuables in the vehicle.
“It might be an inconvenience to lock the car each time you go back into the house, but it is still far better than having something stolen from your vehicle,” said Sgt Walsh.
He also urged, that as a matter of routine, no one should leave any valuables in their cars when they parked them up.
“Even the coins that some people keep in car pockets for parking or other small payments can attract thieves. Never leave anything of value in your vehicles,” he said.
Councillors back bid to ban city centre parking in Galway
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors have unanimously agreed to ask Transport Minister Eamon Ryan to limit parking to residents only in the city centre.
Pedestrians in the city are being treated like second-class citizens, according to the Mayor, who said cars continued to get the priority on Galway’s streets.
At a meeting of the City Council this week, Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind) said the city had come to a standstill in car traffic, and pedestrians and cyclists were suffering the consequences.
“At junctions, why am I a second-class citizen in my own city as a pedestrian? It rains in Galway for 300 days of the year, but I am a second-class citizen when priority is given to motorists.
“It’s always the pedestrian that waits,” she said, hitting out at the length it took to get a green light to cross at pedestrian crossings.
One way to reduce the number of cars in the city centre would be to limit parking to residents only in the city centre, said the Mayor.
In a motion she proposed, seconded by Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind), councillors unanimously agreed to write to the Minister for Transport to demand he pass the necessary legislation to enable the Council to do this.
The Mayor said residents were “sick, sore and tired” of people parking where they wanted when they visited the city and said despite a desire to introduce this measure going back almost 20 years, the Council was hamstrung by national legislation that prevented them from proceeding.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.