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CITY TRIBUNE

One third of submissions on new Cross-City Bus Link were negative

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The proposed new urban traffic plan – aimed at facilitating two major bus links across the city – could end up putting traffic around in circles and going nowhere, a former mayor claimed this week.

Cllr Donal Lyons (Ind) told a City Council meeting that he had concerns over major changes proposed for vehicular traffic in the city – without the proposed N6 Galway City Ring Road being in place.

BY FRANCIS FARRAGHER AND DENISE McNAMARA

“If we have no Ring Road, what will take the traffic? We are looking at major changes in traffic-flow in places like the Salmon Weir Bridge and College Road with one-way systems.

“Even to access City Hall or going to the Sportsground for the rugby matches will be impacted upon. We’ll just end up sending the traffic around in circles, going nowhere.

“I am not convinced that these proposals [the Cross City Link and the Dublin Road Bus Corridor] will work, without the Ring Road,” said Cllr Lyons.

According to Cllr Owen Hanley (Social Democrats), the City Council was not moving quickly enough to bring about a modal switch in terms of transport usage across the city.

Cllr John Connolly (FF) said that there were real concerns among communities that the Council’s transport strategy was not progressing at a sufficient pace to indicate real change was taking place.

Mayor Colette Connolly (Ind), said that as regards the Dublin Road Bus Corridor, they were only at stage 2 of what was a 7-stage project.

Senior City Council Engineer, Uinsinn Finn, said that each of the projects put forward stood on its own merits but that all of them fitted into the overall Galway Transportation Strategy.

He also said that there had been agreement between the Saolta Hospital Group and the NTA (National Transport Authority) on the proposed bus route through the grounds of the hospital grounds (UHG).

Replying to queries about the Dublin Road Bus Corridor and the location of the new graveyard on a green area (just before the Connacht Hotel as one leaves the city), he said that he envisaged no problems with this.

“There is good public transport available while the site [new cemetery] is also in close proximity to the city centre,” said Mr Finn.

Meanwhile, almost one third of people who made submissions to the Council on the proposed Cross-City Link bus route were negative towards the project in the first stage of consultation.

In an update to councillors on the public transport and cycling priority corridor from NUIG to the Sportsground, 14 per cent were very negative while 15 per cent were classed as negative.

The largest percentage of submissions were neutral at 34 per cent, while 11 per cent were categorised as mixed.

Just eight per cent were ‘very positive’, and 18 per cent said to be ‘positive’.

A total of 93 submissions were made via the virtual room or email submission to the City Council. A total of 36 stakeholders out of 130 contacted – such as taxi companies, car park operators and businesses directly impacted – took part in a virtual briefing. A further 75 attended a Galway Chamber of Commerce event.

There are two more landowners yet to be contacted, with 21 landowners having had some form of engagement.

The main theme of the queries or submissions were concerns over loss of parking, access for areas such as College Road, Woodquay and Corrib Terrace and the impact of displaced traffic as well as support for greater priority for buses and cyclists.

The east-west priority corridor will see non-essential private traffic restricted or removed in the core part of the city centre in order to encourage more people out of their cars due to certainty of frequency and journey time reliability of public transport.

The next stage involves the preparation of the Environmental Impact Assessment and a Natura Impact Statement, which begins this month and will likely take six months.

Once these reports are concluded and the planning route confirmed the application for consent will then be submitted to An Bord Pleanála in parallel with the Compulsory Purchase application in the final quarter of 2021.

The ‘emerging preferred scheme’ involves two bus lanes over the Salmon Weir Bridge, Eglinton Street, Williamsgate Street. Eyre Square east and north and Forster Street will be restricted to public transport, cycling and taxis at peak times, while College Road will be limited to public transport, taxi and local access only, with no through-traffic – except for buses – permitted to the western end of Forster Street.

Forster Street, Eyre Square East, Prospect Hill and Bóthar Uí hEithir will become two-way traffic routes.

It is estimated that the project could be completed by 2026.

Councillor Mike Cubbard questioned why there were two landowners still to be questioned.

“There’s 29 per cent negative and very negative. Is there a common theme there to work on? It’s very hard to bring people with you when a third are against it,” he said.

CITY TRIBUNE

No monkeypox cases recorded so far in Galway

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The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC) has had no reports of monkeypox infection in Galway so far.

So far, some 97 confirmed cases have been notified in Ireland, including 12 new notifications in the week to July 30.

But none of these cases were notified in the HSE’s CHO2 area which includes Galway, Mayo and Roscommon.

The latest epidemiology report about human monkeypox was released last week.

All of the 97 notified cases in Ireland are males and have a median age of 36.

The sexual orientation of 75 of the men is known, and they self-identify as gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men.

The HSPC said this epidemiology of the infection is similar to other countries.

A total of ten people have been hospitalised with the infection; four of them required clinical care for monkeypox infection while two were admitted for observation.

The HSE said monkeypox is a very uncommon infection that produces a spotty, itchy and sore rash, and sometimes a fever.

It is caused by a monkeypox virus which is naturally found in some animals in Africa. The HSE said it was in the news now because there have been several thousand cases of monkeypox in countries where the virus is not found naturally, including Ireland.

It is spread through close contact, including sexual contact, but it can be picked up through contact with objects touched by an infected person such as sheets.

Monkeypox symptoms can appear in two stages. The first stage usually begins with a sudden onset of fever and chills, followed by a bad headache, swollen glands and exhaustion. There may also be muscle ache, backache, cough and runny nose, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea.  Not everyone with monkeypox has these initial symptoms.

One to three days after the fever starts, an itchy rash appears. It may first appear on the face and spread to other parts of the body. Some people may only have a rash and not initial symptoms.

Anyone with symptoms is asked to contact their GP.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Law catches up with Galway parking meter thief years later

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From the Galway City Tribune – The long arm of the law stretched back through the years, finally bringing a man to justice this week for stealing almost €3,500 in coins from parking meters in the city six years ago.

42-year-old Ioan Costin, a Romanian national with an address at 20 Brewery Court, Ballinrobe, was taken into custody on July 11 on foot of three separate bench warrants issued for his arrest when he failed to appear before courts in Galway in 2017, and more recently Dublin and Castlebar.

He was facing charges in Galway in 2017 of damaging a parking meter at the Long Walk, belonging to Galway/Aengus Property Management on July 6, 2016, and with stealing €669.90 in coins from the meter on the same date.

He was further charged with stealing €932 in coins from another parking meter at the Docks, the property of Paul Sheridan, c/o Port of Galway, on October 2, 2016, and with damaging that machine on the same occasion.

Costin was brought in custody before Galway District Court on July 18 – a week after the bench warrant was executed – where he pleaded guilty to the above charges and to further charges of damaging four other parking meters at or near the Docks area on various dates between July 4 and 19, 2016.

In all, coins totalling €3,451 were taken from the meters over the four-month period, to which he also pleaded guilty.

In one raid alone, Costin and another man, who was never identified or caught, stole €1,800 in coins from one meter at the Dock Road on July 6, 2016.

He was also found in possession of two screw drivers which he used to force the meters open during one of the July raids.

Both men were captured on CCTV, damaging the meters and stealing the coins, following a Garda investigation into the targeted attacks on parking meters in the Docks area at the time.

Costin made full admissions to Garda Ronan Leonard following his arrest on July 11 last.

He claimed he had a gambling addiction and went straight to Salthill on each occasion with his share of the stolen coins, where he lost them all on slot machines.

Defence barrister, Ernie White explained to Judge Gerard Furlong at the holiday sittings of the court this week that his client was first brought in custody before Galway District Court on July 11 last where he pleaded guilty to the charges and sentence was adjourned to this week’s court.

Sergeant Christy Browne, prosecuting, said Costin had 17 previous convictions, all of which were for thefts and for having implements to commit thefts.  The most recent conviction, he said, was recorded at Castlebar Circuit Court on July 15 last where Costin received a three-month sentence for a theft which he committed in May 2020.  He had also received suspended sentences at a court in Dublin the previous day for similar thefts and for having screwdrivers to commit thefts in 2017.

Noting Costin had made no attempt to repay the money in the intervening years, Judge Furlong sentenced him to five months in prison for damaging the meter at The Long Walk and imposed a concurrent five-month sentence for the theft of the €3,451.  Both sentences were backdated to when the Costin went into custody on July 11.  The judge took the remaining charges into account and granted leave to appeal the sentence.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Arts building must be provided in any overhaul of Galway Docks

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Galway Harbour area

From the Galway City Tribune – A three-storey structure to accommodate the arts in Galway City could become a reality as part of the regeneration plans for the extensive Inner Harbour site at the Docks.

And Galway Harbour Company has stated that as part of any redevelopment of the site, they are very supportive of the provision of arts and cultural facilities on their lands.

Caroline Phelan, Senior Planner with the City Council, told a Galway City Development Plan (2023-29) discussion that they would consider the provision of 1,500 square metres of arts space on the site by the eventual developer.

And she said that this could involve the construction of a three-storey structure and would be embraced as part of the overall Harbour extension and all councillors present at the meeting welcomed such a move.

Ms Phelan added that any such development would be limited to a certain size and would be done in conjunction with the City Arts Officer. An audit of arts and culture requirements would also be carried out.

The City Development Plan meeting was discussing a submission from the Galway Harbour Company which outlined a proposed masterplan for the overall site which it said would be required.

It is envisaged that the site will be ‘built out’ in two phases and should require a separate masterplan for each phase, in the context of the overall planning framework.

However, as part of this massive plan, it is required the provision of an arts and cultural facility at a developer’s expense and with a management regime incorporated into the development delivery that enables the long-term sustainable use of such a facility.

“Galway Harbour Company are entirely supportive of the provision of arts and cultural facilities on their lands as part of the regeneration of the area and will actively accommodate such facilities.

“However, the requirement as set out in the draft plan is considered to be unduly onerous particularly as our client has no involvement in or expertise in this sector.

“The Galway Harbour Company will make a site available for an arts and cultural facility and will work with all relevant parties to ensure that this facility is delivered and that it is sustainable in the long term.”

It was requested by the Harbour Company that that this requirement would be reworded along the following lines: “Provision will be made within the masterplan for an arts and cultural facility and the delivery and management regime for this facility will be devised in collaboration with Galway City Council and other relevant stakeholders.”

Cllr Donal Lyons (Ind) at the outset asked if it would be a small, medium or large artistic facility and inquired if there would be a minimum space available for the arts as part of the Harbour regeneration plans.

But he did express the view that it was a major step towards the provision of such facilities at the Docks and it would “foster artistic purposes”.

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