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Nutritionists see Red over new GAA drinks deal

Denise McNamara



The decision by Galway GAA to accept Red Bull as “the official drinks partner” for all Galway football and hurling teams has been criticized by a Government body as sending the wrong message to young people.

Red Bull announced its sponsorship deal with Galway GAA covering football and hurling teams at senior, minor and U21 levels during their training and games.

A statement from the drinks giant said “the exciting new partnership” continues Red Bull’s “long standing association with both Gaelic football and hurling through the creation of its own events and the Red Bull Athlete network”.

Red Bull Longest Day is led by Galway full forward Joe Canning, described by their marketing as a “Red Bull Athlete”.

“Red Bull’s involvement in Gaelic Games is similar to the level of support the brand has established with some of the world’s best athletes and events in a multitude of sports, ranging from field sports to surfing, triathlon and skiing. Some of the most significant partnerships include football (FC Red Bull Salzburg, New York Red Bulls, Red Bull Brazil), ice hockey (Red Bull Salzburg & Munchen), triathlon (Ironman, official drinks partner) and running (Wings for Life World Run) to name but a few.

“Red Bull has also invested in such innovations as the Diagnostics Training Centre, based in Austria, which aids athletes in recovering from injury and achieving peak fitness and performance,” the company said.

CEO of Galway GAA John Hynes said the county’s top sporting association was “delighted to be linking with such a progressive company as Red Bull”.

“Both Red Bull and Galway GAA have matching ambitions and look forward to continued success on and off the field,” he stated.

However, the deal has left the all-Ireland food safety and nutrition promotion board with a bad taste.

“This is very disappointing news to hear given that stimulant drinks like Red Bull are not suitable for children or for rehydration purposes following sport,” remarked Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, director of human health and nutrition for Safefood.

“The consumption of energy drinks in Ireland is associated with binge-drinking and I’m unclear how this sponsorship fits with the philosophy and vision of any national governing body like the GAA which does so much positive work with children and sport, particularly at underage levels.

“Role-modelling is a powerful tool when it comes to our sports stars, especially with younger children. Safefood have always recommended that the marketing of these products is undertaken without association with sport however this sponsorship seems to be prepared to target young, impressionable consumers in the belief that stimulant drinks will help them achieve ‘peak fitness and performance’ according to their own marketing materials.”

A report released last month by Safefood into energy drinks found there was a massive increase in the number of products now on sale since 2002, with some brands containing up to 16 teaspoons of sugar in a single can.

Males aged 15-24 were the highest consumers of energy drinks (64%) and over half of those who consumed energy drinks (54%) consumed them at least once a week or more frequently.

Dr Foley-Nolan noted that energy drinks and sports drinks now comprise more than 20% of the soft drinks market in Ireland.

“Consumption can have health consequences because of their sugar and caffeine content. A typical small 250ml can has sugar levels of 6 teaspoons per can which is equivalent to a full chocolate bar.

“The caffeine content is high and drinking two small cans and one small espresso of coffee drives an adult’s daily caffeine intake above recommended levels.”

The use of energy drinks as a mixer with alcohol among young adults also has consequences in the context of Ireland’s current binge–drinking culture, she stressed.

“Safefood’s position continues to be that these drinks are not recommended as a mixer for alcoholic beverages but this is now common and part of the binge drinking culture prevalent particularly amongst our 15-24 year olds.”

Operation Transformation GP Dr Ciara Kelly described mixing an energy drink – which is a stimulant – with alcohol – which is a depressant – like “driving a car with your feet on the accelerator and brake pedals at the same time”.

“It stimulates a person so they actually end up drinking for longer as they may not be aware how drunk they really are. GP surgeries and our emergency departments have to deal with the effects of mixing energy drinks with alcohol,” she explained.

“The cheap price, easy availability, aggressive marketing and consumption of these products bluntly show how far from responsible the industry truly is and why we need to ask ourselves some hard questions when it comes to their use.”

Dr Foley-Nolan insists that energy drinks are also not suitable for children under 16 or for rehydration purposes following sport.

“The marketing of these products should be undertaken without any ambiguity or association with sport or alcohol. An awareness campaign of the potential health issues, targeted specifically at young people, is something that needs to happen.”

Red Bull – the highest-selling energy drink in the world, with 5.387 billion cans sold in 2013 – is a mix of sugar, caffeine, taurine and several B vitamins. It became a worldwide sensation after a 1987 trip to Thailand by Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz who tried a traditional drink known as Krating Daeng to help his jetlag.


Galway City Council turns down Mad Yolk Farm site

Dara Bradley



An application to retain farming-related development on a site in Roscam has been turned down by Galway City Council.

The local authority has refused to grant retention permission to applicant Brian Dilleen for subsurface piping to be used for agricultural irrigation at ‘Mad Yolk Farm’ on Rosshill Road.

It also refused permission for the retention of a bore-hole well, water pump and concrete plinth; and two water holding tanks for 6,500 litres; and other associated site works.

In its written decision, the Planning Department at City Hall said: “The proposed development, would if permitted, facilitate the use of the site for the provision of sixty 15.5m high seed beds, which have been deemed by the planning authority not to be exempted development.

“Therefore a grant of permission for the proposed development would facilitate the unauthorised development and usage on the site, contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

The site has been the subject of enforcement action by the local authority.

A lengthy Appropriate Assessment Screening report, submitted with the planning application, concluded “beyond reasonable scientific doubt, in view of the best scientific knowledge, on the basis of objective information and in light of the conservation objectives of the relevant European sites, that the proposed retention and development, individually or in combination with other plans and projects, has not and will not have a significant effect on any European site”.

A borehole Impact Assessment Report concluded that the proposed retention development “on the hydraulic properties of the aquifer is considered negligible”.

It said that there was “no potential for significant effects on water quality, groundwater dependent habitats or species associated with any European site”.

Six objections were lodged by neighbours, including one from the Roshill/Roscam Residents Association, which argued the Further Information submitted by the applicant did “little to allay our concerns” about the impact of the development on an “extremely sensitive site”.

The applicant has until June 29 to appeal the decision to An Bórd Pleanála.

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NUIG student accommodation firm records loss

Enda Cunningham



The property company which operates student accommodation on behalf of NUI Galway recorded a €3.4 million increase in turnover in 2019.

However, Atalia Student Residences DAC (Designated Activity Company), which is owned by the university, recorded a loss for the year of €6,300.

Accounts for the company for the year ended August 31, 2019, show that while there was a loss, retained profits are at more than €1.6 million. The accounts are the most up to date available from the Companies Registration Office.

The previous year, the company made a profit of more than €460,000.

Atalia Student Residences operates the 764-bed Corrib Village apartment complex and the 429-bed Goldcrest Village.

The figures show that the company’s overall turnover jumped by 52% – from €6.4m to €9.8m.

Turnover for accommodation services was up from €5.2m to €8.4m; and from conferences and events was up from €850,000 to €1.1m. Turnover from shops was down from almost €328,000 to €290,000.

Outside of the academic year, both complexes are used as accommodation for conference delegates, while Corrib Village is also used for short-term holiday lets.

The accounts show fixed assets – including fixtures and fittings, plant and machinery and office equipment – valued at €1.5m. Its current assets were valued at more than €7m, including ‘cash at bank and in hand’ of almost €6.9m (up from €5.6m last year).

The company owed creditors €6.9m, including €5.2m in deferred income.

It employed 38 people (which includes its five directors) last year, up from 31 the previous year.

As well as operating the student accommodation complexes, the company also markets conference facilities and services on behalf of the university.

It pays rent to NUIG but the figure is not included in the company accounts. In 2018, the rent figure was just over €2.25m.

In Corrib Village, a single bedroom with a private en suite for the academic year costs €5,950. For Goldcrest Village, the figure is €6,760.

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Call for two-way cycling under Galway City outdoor dining plan

Dara Bradley



Bike users want the local authority to examine the introduction of two-way cycling on one-way city centre streets.

Galway Cycling Campaign has again called for cycling to be allowed both ways. It comes as Galway City Council prepares to cordon-off parts of city centre streets to traffic, and make Dominick Street Lower one-way, to facilitate outdoor dining.

The cycling organisation said that the proposed pedestrianisation plan at the Small Crane, and the one-way system on Dominick Street, will result in lengthy diversions for people on bikes.

It has pointed out that school children and their guardians who cycle along Raleigh Row, and turn right towards Sea Road, will probably continue to do so even when the Small Crane is cordoned off to traffic, because the alternative route – via Henry Street – is too long a detour.

Similarly, it has been suggested that food-delivery services on bikes are unlikely to go the ‘long way round’ via Mill Street and New Road to get from Bridge Mills to restaurants on Dominick Street and would be tempted to cycle the ‘wrong way’ down the proposed one-way street or on the footpath.

Shane Foran, committee member of Galway Cycling Campaign, said now would be an ideal time to introduce two-way cycling on some one-way streets.

“It’s not controversial,” insisted Mr Foran. “It’s a general principle in other countries, if you are putting in new traffic arrangements, you would try and keep access for people on bikes.”

The regulation is contained in the National Cycle Policy Framework 2009; and a specific objective was contained in two of the most recent previous City Development Plans.

He said a former minister and Galway West TD, the late Bobby Molloy, had the vision to change the legislation in the late 1990s – but it hasn’t yet been embraced here.

“Bobby Molloy, who couldn’t be classed as an eco warrior, changed the law in 1998, so that it is available to local authorities to put up a sign granting an exemption from restrictions for people cycling on one-way streets.

“The road stays one-way for cars, and two ways for bicycles. Clearly that’s not going to be a sensible to do everywhere, like Merchants’ Road. In those situations, you might need a cycle track or lane to segregate people from traffic.

“But if it’s a low traffic street, with low speeds or relatively lower volumes of cars, then it should be possible for people on bicycles to cycle in both directions and still have it one-way for cars, without it being a major safety issue. It works in other countries,” said Mr Foran.

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