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No movement on Conamara ambulance base

There is growing frustration that a planning application for a promised ambulance base in the North Conamara village of Recess has yet to be lodged – and now may not happen until near the end of the year.

Three Galway West TDs raised the matter in the Dáil last week – and all expressed frustration that while the project is part of the HSE West’s capital plan for this year, there has been very little sign of progress.

A clearly irate Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív said that an undertaking was given that planning would be applied in the third quarter of the year.

“We are in the third quarter of the year. If the application for planning permission does not go this month, I cannot see much progress being made in August when different people will be coming and going,” he said.

“Can we get a firm commitment that this timeframe will be adhered to because there will be a minimum of at least three months after the application has been submitted before planning can be legally approved . . . and that is if there is no appeal?” the Fianna Fáil TD asked.

Minister of State Frankie Feighan, who was taking the Dáil query, responded by saying that the project was being progressed and that the HSE was engaging with Galway County Council regarding road access to the proposed base.

He accepted that this was the third quarter and summer holidays were kicking in – but he gave an undertaking that he would be talking to the Department of Health to determine the status of the application.

Minister Feighan then admitted: “If an application is not made by the HSE through the local authority, this project could be delayed. There is urgency and I hear what the Deputies are saying.”

While an additional ambulance and staff were deployed to the Conamara area and this was welcomed, the requirement of an additional ambulance base has been highlighted for more than seven years.

Deputy Catherine Connolly (Ind) said she welcomed the confirmation from the Minister of State that the proposed new facility was at an advanced stage – even if it had not gone to planning.

“Looking back at the progress made since 2015, certainly the politicians have had something to do with it, but far more praise must go to the group on the ground.

“It is a small, dedicated group of people who have gone through winter, summer and all the other seasons. Over the two elections in my experience, they have pushed for this. But we need absolute certainty regarding this facility,” Deputy Connolly added.

Deputy Mairead Farrell (SF) said that people’s lives were at risk in terms of waiting times for ambulances and this was why it was urgently required. She added that in the interim deployment to North Conamara was taking place from the base in Clifden.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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