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New options for Black Box redevelopment to be examined



The Dyke Road car park and Black Box: new plans are to be drawn up.

After receiving 12 expressions of interest about the redevelopment of the Dyke Road carpark and the Black Box, Galway City Council has conceded the project is too ambitious to go it alone, putting the kybosh on hopes of replacing the theatre by 2020.

Instead, the Council will use the €750,000 funds saved over three years for its redevelopment to appoint consultants to weigh up all options for the four-acre site and to draw up a definitive specification for the cultural building that will replace the Black Box – that may or may not move away from the Dyke Road.

The €3.5 million funding approved by the Northern and Western Regional Assembly for the project will now be split evenly between two other flagship developments – the overhaul of the pedestrianised zone in the city and the creation of a children’s creative hub at Lenaboy Castle at Taylor’s Hill, formerly St Anne’s Children Home being donated by the Sisters of Mercy.

“Direction is more important than speed. We’d like to go out to procurement on this and get the preparatory work done as soon as possible,” enthused Mark O’Donnell, Senior Executive Officer for Economic Development and Capital Projects at Galway City Council.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) said the report was full of buzz words but very little substance, noting there was just three-quarters of a million in the coffers to develop what could be a €100m project.

He stated that he was “really very disappointed by the lack of progress on it”.

“This will never be developed if we stay going on this path. It’s 14 months in the offing in what was to have been a cultural space. If you believe the Galway City Tribune, it’s going to be student accommodation.”

This prompted City Chief Executive Brendan McGrath to reply: “That’s the last thing it will be.” He later clarified that any large mixed development would have a 20% residential component according to the local authority’s own guidelines, but that could be hotel accommodation.

He said the complexity of the development – which would entail parking, possibly retail, commercial offices and some housing built over eight storeys – meant that “definitely, it won’t be developed by Galway City Council on its own”. A joint venture was currently emerging as the best route.

Mr McGrath suggested the deal may involve a land or building swap with developers or State bodies, noting the huge amount of interest shown in the site since news of the plan emerged in the 2020 bid book.

“It’s not about delaying or kicking the can down the road. The 12 or so submissions we received all proposed differing things, so this will look at the best mix and ultimately what best benefits the city first and City Council second,” he insisted.

“Liverpool only had their final project finished last year following the 2008 designation.”

This prompted councillors to throw up a long list of buildings which could be acquired for both the municipal library and a cultural centre – among them County Hall, the Courthouse, an ESB site, NUIG properties on Nuns Island.

Independent Cllr Donal Lyons formally proposed the five recommendations, including the appointment of a multidisciplinary team of consultants to lead it.


Galway City Council Chief asked to intervene after Kirwan junction ‘near misses’



From the Galway City Tribune – Chief Executive of Galway City Council, Brendan McGrath, has been urged to intervene and instigate a review of the controversial changeover of Kirwan roundabout to a traffic light junction.

A relative of the Collins’ family, who operate a B&B on Headford Road, has pleaded with Mr McGrath to act to make it safe to enter and exit this house.

Joseph Murphy, from County Galway but living in England, a relative of the owners of the B&B located on the N84 side of the Headford Road, has warned of the potential for a serious collision at that junction.  He wrote to Mr McGrath, and copied all city councillors including Mayor of Galway, Clodagh Higgins (FG), seeking a review of the junction and in particular access to the B&B. Mr Murphy said he has been driving for forty years but this junction was “one of the most difficult and complicated traffic light junctions I have ever experienced”.

The CCTV shows a van stopping in the junction to give way to pedestrians before entering the B&B.

He said he wrote the letter because he nearly had a serious accident, due to no fault of his, when leaving the residence.

An amber traffic lights system is in place at the house, since the junction changeover last year, which is supposed to help motorists exit onto the Headford Road from the B&B.

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

He said the lights are complicated and it was unreasonable and unfair on his family and any guests staying at their B&B who may be endangered trying to enter or exit the driveway.

Videos of ‘near misses’ recorded on CCTV footage, and supplied to Councillor Mike Crowe (FF), have been seen by the Galway City Tribune.

They give a flavour of how dangerous it is to exit the residence on an amber light; and indicate an apparent lack of understanding of the system on the part of other motorists.

Cllr Crowe and other elected members raised this safety issue at a Council meeting last week during a discussion on the City Development Plan. It was decided to rezone some land adjacent to Sandyvale Lawn, which would allow for a new entrance to the house to be constructed, although there is no timeframe.

Mr Murphy, in his email to officials and councillors said it was an “extremely busy junction”.

“I do not believe that enough planning or consideration was taken when the traffic lights were installed, especially those that were installed directly in front of my sister’s house.

“My relatives in Galway should not have to worry every time they leave their house nor should anyone coming from the Menlo direction have to worry about getting blocked in by other vehicles when entering my sister’s house,” he said.

Mr Murphy added: “I would urge the Galway City Council to carry out an immediate review to make this busy junction safe before somebody gets hurt in a serious accident.”

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Plan for former pub in Galway to house Ukrainian refugees



From the Galway City Tribune – The former Lantern Bar in Ballybane has been proposed to accommodate Ukrainians seeking refuge in Galway.

The Galway City Tribune has learned that works are underway on the building to advance the plans.

The Council confirmed that they had been briefed on the proposal but refused to be drawn on the details.

“Galway City Council is aware of a proposal to use the Lantern Bar at Ballybane Shopping Centre for refugees,” said a spokesperson.

“The coordination of the development of accommodation facilities such as this is the responsibility of the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.”

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. A one-year digital subscription costs just €89.00. The print edition is in shops every Friday.

The local authority spokesperson said they did not have information on the number of people who would be accommodated, nor did they know when the facility might be open.

The Lantern Bar has not operated as a pub for some time, although its licence was renewed on appeal at Galway Circuit Court in February 2020 when the court was told that it was intended to sell the premises.

The bar, which had been the location of a series of public order incidents in 2019, had previously had its licence revoked following several objections from residents.

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City centre residents’ fears over new late-night opening hours



From the Galway City Tribune – Residents in one of the city centre’s oldest residential areas fear their lives will be turned upside-down by proposed later opening hours for pubs and nightclubs.

Chairperson of the Bowling Green Residents’ Association, Jackie Uí Chionna, told a public meeting of the City’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC) that as city centre residents, anti-social behaviour was part of their daily lives.

However, they expected the situation to worsen if Government proceeded with proposals to extend nightclub opening hours to 6.30am.

“Our concern at our recent AGM was the longer pub opening hours – it will result in an increase in [anti-social behaviour],” said Ms Uí Chionna.

She said it was their belief that this policy went against the right of city centre residents to “exist and live as a community” in the middle of town.

“We oppose increasing opening hours. We won’t have any sleep – we have minimal as it is. And we won’t feel safe to walk on the streets.

“It is regrettable that there has been so little consultation with gardaí and residents,” said Ms Uí Chionna.

Chief Superintendent Gerard Roche said Gardaí were waiting to see what happened with the legislation for later opening hours.

“On one hand, not having 5,000 or 10,000 people coming out at the one time will be a benefit but the question is if they won’t [come out at one time]. And will businesses buy into it?” questioned the Chief Supt.

Meanwhile, another Bowling Green resident and former city councillor, Nuala Nolan, raised concerns about the new model of policing and said rostering, which had gardaí working three days on and four days off was making it difficult to follow up on matters with community gardaí.

“You can’t get that person when they’re off for another four days – the continuity is gone,” said Ms Nolan.

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