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Connacht Tribune

New homes plan a ‘fatal accident waiting to happen’

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A local residents’ association has objected to plans for the construction of nearly 40 new homes in Claregalway, warning that additional traffic in the area would be a “fatal accident waiting to happen”.

Residents in the adjoining Riveroaks estate also argue that no insurance company offers flood insurance for their homes.

Developer Walter King has sought permission to develop the 3.8-acre site at Summerfield for 39 houses and 78 parking spaces.

The plans involve 22 three-bed semis, 6 two-bed end of terrace, 6 two-bed mid-terrace, 3 three-bed terraced and 2 four-bed semis, accessed from the Riveroaks estate.

Because the lands are in a Gaeltacht area, 20% of the development (eight dwellings) must be reserved for Irish speakers for a 15-year period.

“The proposed development will provide additional residential units within Claregalway which will augment and support the existing population centre. The provision of an additional 39 units will not have an adverse impact on the linguistic integrity of the area due to the population levels and the numbers of Irish speakers in the vicinity.

“Furthermore, in compliance with the Gaeltacht Local Area Plan, eight residential units will be reserved for Irish-speaking members of the community for a 15-year period. The reservation of eight houses for Irish speakers will help strengthen the language in the village and this is in addition to any further Irish speakers that may occupy the 31 remaining proposed houses,” the application reads.

Four houses will be transferred to the County Council to meet social housing requirements.

The Riveroaks Residents’ Association has made a submission the Council outlining the reasons it is not in favour of the development, including Health and Safety issues.

“Riveroaks is a very large estate with a single access point to the main N17 road which is also shared with a shopping centre and the Claregalway Hotel and is already extremely dangerous with one resident recently suffering a near-fatal accident.

“Traffic volumes through the village are still dangerously high and this is compounded by the fact that the entrance to Riveroaks frequently flooded due to hopelessly inadequate storm drainage systems in the village.

“The junction is potentially lethal as due to the curvature of the road, visibility is extremely limited on both sides and we feel it would be grossly irresponsible to allow heavy construction traffic in particular to access a large site like this through this route.

“We also have strong concerns about the health and safety of residents and young children in particular – the route from the estate entrance through to this proposed development is approximately 500 metres long and passed by many open entrances – the additional traffic through this route is a fatal accident waiting to happen,” the objection reads.

Residents also point out the development borders a documented flood plan, and while an engineering report with the application found the development and access road would be in a low-risk zone, “the reality is that no insurance company currently offers flood cover for any property in Riveroaks estate”.

They also took issue with GK Developments, the company which built Riveroaks – headed by Walter King – over unfinished work and delays in the estate including road surfacing, footpaths and drainage.

Concerns were also expressed that there would be nearly 200 houses and apartments, with no plans for recreational facilities and while children are already playing in close proximity to the road.

The Council is due to make a decision on the application in the middle of September.

Connacht Tribune

Thousands on waiting list for student accommodation in Galway

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The student housing crisis is ‘the worst it’s ever been’ – with thousands on waiting lists for rooms; hundreds relying on hostels and friends’ sofas; and countless more facing deferral or dropping out altogether.

The President of NUI Galway’s Students’ Union, Róisín Nic Lochlainn, told the Connacht Tribune that students had been left in a desperate situation, as she called for mass protests to have the issue addressed.

According to Ms Nic Lochlainn, 3,000 students were currently on the waiting lists for NUIG’s on-campus accommodation – Corrib Village and Goldcrest Village – with around 500 in line for any bed that might come up in the Westwood.

“Gort na Coiribe and Dunaras have told us their waiting lists are well into the hundreds too. I’ve only got to contact two of the hostels around town, but Kinlay and Snoozles have almost 200 students between them already – and they’re expecting more.

“The first years haven’t even arrived yet, and on top of all that, you have people in B&Bs and staying on their friends’ sofas,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn.

Pressure on the student rental market had been building for years, she said, but it had gone off the cliff edge this year as a perfect storm was created by increased student numbers and reduced bed availability.

“[Minister for Further and Higher Education] Simon Harris created new places on courses this year and talked about maximum access to education . . . I’m not sure how that works for students who are homeless.

“Because there weren’t many students around last year, some private landlords might have moved on. There was no new purpose-built accommodation delivered, and then Simon Harris creates new places with no new beds,” said Ms Nic Lochlainn of the causes of this year’s problems.”

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Government asked to “do everything” to ensure Intel chooses Oranmore as base

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The Taoiseach and Tánaiste will be asked to do “everything in their power” to ensure technology giant Intel selects Oranmore as the location for its new microchip manufacturing plant – which could create 10,000 jobs and transform the West of Ireland economy.

The 540-acre site is owned by the Defence Forces and was selected by IDA Ireland as the preferred site for the company’s new EU ‘chip’ base.

BY STEPHEN CORRIGAN
AND DARA BRADLEY

Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany and Intel confirmed to Taoiseach Micheál Martin that the site is under consideration.

Galway East TD Ciarán Cannon said the development would be “transformative” and would be Intel’s largest microchip manufacturing plant in the world.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of the Athenry Oranmore Municipal District this week, councillors backed a proposal from Cllr Liam Carroll to write to Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar to urge them to push forward the plan.

“This would be a game-changer, not just for Oranmore but for the whole of Connacht. Imagine 10,000 directly employed at some stage in the future, and the spinoff from that,” he said.

The Oranmore site is reported to have been selected ahead of three other locations in Ireland.

It is on Intel’s short-list for the proposed project, which would involve building eight factory modules on a single campus at the site off the M6 motorway, northeast of Oranmore, the newspaper reported.

The American multinational tech company has whittled down its short-list to 10 finalists; Oranmore is up against sites in Poland, France and Germany.

The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that if it proceeds, the new Oranmore ‘mega-fab’ would dwarf Intel’s existing site in Leixlip, which employs almost 5,000.

Galway East TD, Ciaran Cannon (FG) said: “It would put Galway on the map internationally as a place for high-tech investment and it would serve to rebalance the economic imbalance that exists in our country where all of the weight is on the east coast.

“The IDA has a formula where every one new job created in that industry creates about eight or nine more jobs downstream in terms of the supply chain and services. They’re saying 10,000 jobs on site – twice the population of Athenry – on one campus and then another 80-90,000 jobs off site. The figures are phenomenal, mind boggling,” said Deputy Cannon.

The demand for the facility arose during Covid-19 when the supply chain between Asia and Europe broke down.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Fraudsters ‘spoof’ Galway Garda Station’s phone number

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Fraudsters replicated the phone number of Galway Garda Station and used it to call a local woman to demand money.

Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that the number ‘091 538000’ was somehow used by criminals who attempted to extract money – in the form of the online currency Bitcoin – from the victim.   Despite the phone call appearing to come from the Garda station at Mill Street, the woman became suspicious and reported it to Gardaí.

Sgt Walsh said it was the latest in a series of ‘spoofing’ phone calls to have occurred this year.

Spoofing is where fraudsters change the caller ID to ring unsuspecting members of the public to try to extract money or personal information off them.

He said that the number of spoofing incidents reported to Galway Gardaí has more than doubled in the past year.

“It is top of my agenda,” he said.

He pointed out that criminals can obtain a ‘ready to go’ phone and SIM card, relatively cheaply, and it was “very difficult” for Gardaí to trace the caller.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more details on fraud figures in Galway, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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