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CITY TRIBUNE

No dog owner ever fined since beach ban introduced in 2008

Stephen Corrigan

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The summer-long ban for dogs on Galway’s beaches is being ignored and is going unenforced putting public safety at risk.

That’s according to Cllr Colette Connolly, who fought for the introduction of the law in 2008.

Nobody has ever been fined for breaking the bylaw in its nine years in place.

The law states that from May through to September, dogs are not permitted on Ballyloughane, Salthill, Grattan Road and Silverstrand beaches between the hours of 9am and 8pm.

Dogs must be controlled and on a leash at all times outside these hours and owners found to be in breach of the law could incur a fine of €1,904 and a custodial sentence.

However, Cllr Connolly says the law is a futile exercise as both City Hall and the public are “abdicating their responsibilities”.

“It’s disgusting,” exclaimed Cllr Connolly. “I saw over the weekend that this law is not being enforced – it’s not compatible to have dogs and people swimming in the same water.”

Cllr Connolly said that she believed both her and her colleagues had shown leadership in the interest of public safety when they voted for the byelaw nine years ago.

“I am not anti-dog or anything like that but now the problem is like the drink bylaws – they are not enforced,” she said.

A spokesperson for Galway City Council confirmed to the Galway City Tribune that in the nine years since this law was introduced, not one fine has been issued in relation to the offence.

“There haven’t been any fines issued,” he said. “This is a control issue as much as an enforcement issue and because of the existence of these bylaws, dog owners know that they must keep their dogs under control for a number of reasons – primarily hygiene.”

Cllr Connolly believed that the failure to impose the byelaw was a direct result of the moratorium on recruitment in the public sector.

She called on Chief Executive of the City Council, Brendan McGrath, to be forthcoming about the problem and inform councillors of the issue so they can lobby TDs for a change to the situation.

“We don’t have the wardens and the problem is twofold – there is the primary problem of the moratorium on staffing and there are not enough wardens to do the job.

“There needs to be collective responsibility for behaviour,” said Cllr Connolly.

She argued that an option would be to make provision for dog parks around the city – giving dog owners a place to go where public health would not be at risk.

CITY TRIBUNE

Gardaí bid to identify body recovered near Mutton Island

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Gardai have launched an investigation following the discovery of a body in Galway Bay yesterday afternoon.

A member of the public raised the alarm after spotting the body in the water while walking on the causeway to Mutton Island.

Galway Fire Service, Gardai and the RNLI attended the scene and recovered the body at around 4pm, before it was taken to University Hospital Galway for a post mortem.

It is understood that the body may have been in the water for some time.

Gardaí are currently examining a list of missing people in the city.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Land Development Agency rules out Merlin ‘land grab’

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Campaigners have warned the Land Development Agency (LDA) to keep its hands off Merlin Woods.

Local community group Friends of Merlin Woods said that the amenity on the east side of the city is not suitable for residential development.

It has sought clarification on whether the LDA has earmarked part of the recreational and amenity lands for housing, after it appeared on its online database of publicly-owned lands.

In a statement to the Galway City Tribune, the LDA said its database compiles a list of all State lands, not just land for development.

In relation to Merlin Woods, the LDA said: “Those lands aren’t included in the LDA developments in Galway. The lands database is a map-based tool which compiles all State lands and has no reflection on development potential.”

It came after Caroline Stanley of Friends of Merlin Woods raised concern that land within Merlin Woods had been earmarked for development.

“I’d be concerned that it’s marked as residential when it’s in RA (Recreational and Amenity) land. Some is marked ‘open space’ but some is marked as ‘new proposed residential’ on its [LDA’s] database. It makes us wonder why. We’d like clarity and to clear it up.

“The message we’d like to get out there is we need clarification, whether it’s a mistake on the Land Development Agency’s part, or whether it is an area that they consider as a residential area, which the community would be opposed to. We need clarity. It could be something that is in line for development later on, we don’t know, and we need clarity.”

Councillor Owen Hanley explained that the fears around Merlin Woods stem from legislation currently making its way through the Oireachtas that would strip councillors of powers to veto the transfer of land to the LDA for housing projects.

The Bill would also allow Government to direct what public lands – including those owned by local authorities – can be transferred to the LDA for development of social and affordable housing.
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

‘Detractors’ could hold up €10m Spanish Arch flood defence scheme

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan has warned that the Office of Public Works and Galway City Council “may end up in the High Court” if they attempt to expedite plans for the €10 million flood defence scheme for the Spanish Arch and Docks areas.

Speaking at an Oireachtas Finance Committee meeting last week, the Minister for the Office of Public Works admitted his frustration at the length of time such projects take.

But he said that if he and the OPW attempted to “shave off time” in moving the project forwards, they would have to be mindful of “detractors” making accusations later and there being a legal challenge.

He was responding to Galway West TD Mairéad Farrell, who said it was likely to be 2028 before the flood prevention works would be completed.

“It was revealed in November that it will be at least eight years before long-awaited flood defences are completed in the Spanish Arch and Docks areas – with the City Council estimating that it will be towards the end of 2028 before works conclude,” said Deputy Farrell.

Minister O’Donovan said: “The OPW is committed. There is money available. We do not have a worry about allocating money for capital spending. I say to Deputy Farrell, and to Galway City Council, that, if we can shave off time in advancing projects, we will gladly do so, but we have to be mindful of the fact that if our detractors make accusations later, we may end up in the High Court. We do not want that.”

(Photo: Flood Street in February 2014. Spanish Arch, Fishmarket Square and the Docks areas were flooded in storm weather during high tide. PHOTO BY JOE O’SHAUGHNESSY)
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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