New city centre tourist office ‘vital’

Cllr Pádraig Conneely: "The unused kiosk would make an ideal site for tourism purposes.” Photo: Darius Ivan.

A call for the former tourist kiosk in Eyre Square to be demolished and replaced with a new office has been made by a city councillor.

With the existing tourist office at Forster Street being sold by Fáilte Ireland, Cllr Pádraig Conneely says it is of the utmost importance that a tourist facility should be located in Eyre Square.

He has now called for the replacement of the ‘unsightly’ kiosk at the top of Eyre Square which has not been used for some years.

“It is vital for tourism in the city that Fáilte Ireland maintains a visual presence in the city,” he explained, “and the unused kiosk would make an ideal site for tourism purposes.”

He said that Fáilte Ireland could enter into an agreement with Galway City Council to purchase or lease the site.

Meanwhile, city councillors have passed a motion to halt any sale of the tourist office building on Forster Street – until Fáilte Ireland makes them aware of what the premises would be used for.

The building is on the market with a guide price of €2.2 million – it is currently held on a 999-year lease from Galway City Council at €25,000 per annum.

Last June, Fáilte Ireland told the Council it was planning to sell the building as it required larger premises.

Councillors sought clarification on a number of occasions on what the building would be used for, and accused the tourist board of treating them with contempt after they failed to provide the information.

At a City Council meeting last week, Cllr Peter Keane (FF) said he would be surprised if there wasn’t a condition in the original lease about the usage of the building and he immediately proposed the Council should not consent to the sale until the local authority had been informed as to that usage.

That proposal was seconded by Cllr Conneely and agreed by the Council.

Fáilte Ireland has already told prospective buyers that from the date of any sale, it will continue to lease it on a nine-month licence for €25,000.

The tourist board has said it is seeking a larger premises to house all its staff as well as provide a large public foyer to cater for tourists. A number of staff have already been moved to temporary offices while an information office will remain open at Forster Street.

Brendan McGrath, Chief Executive of Galway City Council, confirmed that the tourist board was actively pursuing a replacement office in the city centre.

Cllr Pádraig Conneely was the first to voice his concerns about the future of the building, which was built on land originally owned by the Council.