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New confidence for Athenry-Tuam greenway lobby

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Those campaigning for a walking and cycling greenway along the Athenry to Tuam railway line have been given fresh hope.

The Minister for Transport has stated that the provision of a greenway would protect the integrity of the Western Rail Corridor.

The statement has come as a major blow to those hoping that the rail link from Athenry to Tuam and onwards to Claremorris would be reopened.

It has now resulted in those opposed to the greenway having a change of mind on the matter – given that the Department has ruled out any chance of the rail line being reopened.

“This is the death knell of the Western Rail Corridor,” declared Cllr. Sean Canney who was vehemently opposed to a greenway being provided on the railway line.

However, he has softened his approach this week. He said that he if the Government had no plan to reopen the rail line, then it had to be used for some other purpose.

“There has been a seismic change in Government policy. I am bitterly disappointed but we have to move on. I am still looking for clarity on the issue”, Cllr. Canney told The Connacht Tribune.

In the statement Minister Paschal Donohue indicated that there were no plans to extend the rail corridor from Athenry to Tuam and beyond.

He stated: “I would like to re-confirm my Department’s position that there are currently no plans to extend the Western Railway Corridor.

“Furthermore, I would like to reiterate that it is the Department’s view that the construction of a greenway along the route of the disused rail line will protect the integrity of the line in the event of any possible future reopening of as an operational line”.

It means that he has thrown ‘cold water’ on any plans by West on Track to have the railway line reopened anytime in the near future. In fact, it has been put well on the back burner.

There have been major campaigns to have the railway line open but the failure of the Athenry to Ennis section of the corridor has put paid to any chances of this happening.

It has now provided those in favour of developing a walking and cycling greenway with renewed hope of it being provided along the track. This week they are celebrating the Minister’s announcement.

Cllr. Canney said that it was a major setback but they now had to consider other options for the rail track. This included a walking and cycling greenway.

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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