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CITY TRIBUNE

Neighbouring business owners object to drinks licence for hotel

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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.

CITY TRIBUNE

Party-goers in Galway hit with Covid fines

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway’s most senior Garda has issued a renewed appeal this week for young people to desist from organising or attending any house parties as the local Covid-19 situation worsens – last week Gardaí were called to break up a number of gatherings in different parts of the city.

A total of 15 people were found to be attending one house party in the Salthill area last weekend while Gardaí were called to two other smaller gatherings – one in the Doughiska area and the other in Rahoon.

Cautions and Fixed Payment Notices (fines) were issued to a number of those involved. This week, Chief Superintendent Tom Curley has pleaded with young people ‘to stay away at all costs’ from such gatherings.

“We have very high Covid incidence rates in the Galway area over the past week; death rates from the disease are at their highest ever level; and the last thing we need now is groups of people coming together in confined settings.

“If one person has Covid at such a gathering then, in all probability, most others there will pick it up too and spread it their contacts and family members. I am pleading for people just not to do this.

“We are entering into our most critical period in trying to contain the spread of Covid-19, with the next month or so absolutely vital in our efforts to keep everyone healthy and safe and to try and avoid further loss of life,” he said.
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.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Community gives new lease of life to Merlin allotments

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – In 2018, the allotments in Merlin Woods were in danger of falling by the wayside, with declining numbers and underuse blighting a facility that had huge potential.

Since then, the community has pulled together to create a space that locals are proud of and one that its advocates are hoping could be a template for other communities across the city.

Chairperson of the Committee behind this new lease of life is Michael Tully, who says the allotments have become a focal point for area, bringing together locals from all walks of life.

“It’s all about netting the community together and the response we’re getting has been unbelievable,” says Michael, who joined the committee in 2018.

“I started off as a user of Merlin Woods, walking by the allotments and thinking to myself that it would be great to grow my own fruit and veg.

“I started talking to a few of the plot-holders like John Rabbitte, Martin Lohan, Jim McCormack and Daithí O’Brien and they told me how to apply. I applied to the City Council and got my allotment in early 2018 and there were about eight allotments in use at that stage, all of us working away on our own.”

Two years later, all 42 allotments are in use, but it took the cooperation of Galway City Council and Trojan work from the community to get it to this point, explains Michael.

“We came down here every Saturday to clear the paths, dig out the weeds and make the place better. The sense of community was unbelievable. Anyone who couldn’t dig was bringing down flasks of tea and cakes to those that were,” he laughs.
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.

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CITY TRIBUNE

National Transport Authority to progress Galway’s Park and Ride

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A dedicated unit established within the National Transport Authority will look at the potential of Park and Ride to help solve Galway City’s traffic congestion problem.

Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, said that Park and Ride facilities should not be restricted to the east, and sites needed to be located to the west and north-west to take account of commuters from Connemara.

Mr McGrath said Park and Ride would be advanced this year as part of the Galway Transport Strategy. He said that the Council, in conjunction with the dedicated unit within the NTA, would investigate feasible sites for the location of Park and Ride facilities.

Mr McGrath said that site selection and acquisition of land could commence in the second quarter of this year. He said he expected that Park and Ride would be progressed well before the Galway City Ring Road was built.

Director of Services for Transport, Ruth McNally, also said that the NTA was looking at the potential of sites in the city for Park and Ride and she insisted that money – or a lack of it – was not halting progress.

“Money is not a major issue for capital projects,” she said.

They were responding at Monday’s City Council meeting to councillors who lamented the slow progress on developing Park and Ride.
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.

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