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Connacht Tribune

Opposition grows to Galway County Council’s clean up ‘ban’

Dara Bradley

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An Taisce has questioned the logic of a new Galway County Council policy that effectively bans roadside clean-ups. The environmental watchdog said it is concerned that the rules introduced by the local authority will act as a disincentive for volunteers and voluntary groups to get involved in community clean-ups.

The new policy states: “No works will be permitted to take place on any major roads with a speed limit greater than 80 kilometres per hour and traffic volumes greater than 1,000 vehicles per day.”

Most roads in the county, apart from very minor ones, would come in under the speed or volume stipulation.

The definition of “works” in the policy extends to litter picking, grass cutting, strimming, spraying, watering plants, emptying litterbins, street sweeping, cleaning recycling centres, hedge trimming and maintenance of flower beds.

The policy is a function of Council management and was not voted on by elected members. Community groups are fearful that, without voluntary clean-ups, there will be a proliferation in litter throughout the county.

The new policy could have implications for An Taisce’s National Spring Clean – an annual month-long initiative that focuses on clean-ups of communities during April.

A spokesperson for An Taisce said: “We would share the concerns of local voluntary and community groups that these new rules place an unnecessary imposition on groups who are trying to be productive and to clean-up and take care of the environment in which they live.”

The spokesperson said the requirement for people involved in clean-ups to be trained in health and safety was “more red-tape” and a “disincentive” for volunteers. “It is difficult to understand what the logic of this policy is,” An Taisce spokesperson added.

The Galway City Clean-Up Group in a statement said it “condemns” the Council’s decision to introduce the new policy.

“We believe this will have an adverse effect on clean-ups in the county. It’s hard enough to get volunteers to come out and now with this unnecessary bureaucracy, we believe it will have an adverse effect on clean-ups,” it said. The group said it doesn’t have faith that the local authority has the resources to do what voluntary organisations are doing in communities and it called on the Council to reverse its decision.

Ten groups in Connemara have written to councillors expressing their concern and frustration at the policy. The groups include: Cumann Forbartha Choic Fharraige, Coiste Pobail Bhearna, Coiste na mBailte Slachtmhara na Forbacha, Comhlacht Forbartha an Spidéil, Coiste Pobail na Minna, Coiste Pobail na Tulaigh, Coiste Pobail Ros a Mhíl, Coiste na nBailte Slachtmhara na Ceathrún Rua, Coiste Pobail Chamuis and Coiste Pobail Rosmuc.

Many more groups have voiced their concern about the new regulations, which have negative wide-ranging implications for Tidy Towns committees.

Independent County Councillor Seósamh Ó Cualáin shares their concern and has called for the new policy to be scrapped.

Connacht Tribune

Biden is a Maree man!

Keith Kelly

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US President-election Joe Biden.

The connections of incoming US President, Joe Biden, to Mayo and Louth on his mother’s side of his family have been widely reported – but it has emerged that he has just as strong links to a small townland outside Oranmore through his father’s side…as recently as four generations ago.

And the news has led to hopes that the President-elect will include a trip to Galway in any itinerary for a visit to Ireland during his presidency – and it is being reported this week that the incoming president will make Ireland his first state visit when he assumes office.

Contact had been made with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s office with the news of the President-elect’s Galway links ahead of his visit to Ireland in 2016, but Liam Hanniffy – who has uncovered the link between his family and that of Mr Biden, was told that the itinerary had already been planned, and a visit to Galway was not possible.

Liam Hanniffy, who is from Ballinacourty in Maree, has been researching his family tree since been contacted by a man from America in 2014 saying they were third cousins, and both were also related to the then US Vice-President, Joe Biden.

Research by Liam has discovered that a man called John Hanniffy, who was born just over 200 years ago in Ballinacourty Hill in Maree, is actually the great-great grandfather of the President-elect – and to make the Galway link even stronger, John Hanniffy married a woman whose parents was also born in the same townland, meaning two of his great-great-great grandparents also came from the same townlands nestled on Galway Bay.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition at www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Galway all set to re-open for business

Dara Bradley

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Shop Street...business will be back.

Galway has earned the right to re-open – local lockdown sacrifices have suppressed the virus in the community, the latest figures confirm.

The collective effort of city and county residents over six weeks drove down the infection rate to one of the lowest in the country.

Gyms, all retail, hairdressers, personal services and possibly religious services and some entertainment are on course to re-open next week.

Government will announce plans for hospitality, with publicans, and in particular those who don’t serve food, hopeful they won’t be left behind. Plans to ease Christmas visiting restrictions will also be unveiled Friday.

Galway had one of Ireland’s highest Covid-19 figures when the country entered Level 5 lockdown in October but the latest stats reveal a massive turnaround.

Galway recorded 168 new confirmed cases in the fortnight to Monday, which equates to a 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 of 65.1, compared with the national average of 107.8. The incidence rate peaked at 313.9 per 100,000 in October when the number of weekly cases in Galway hit a staggering 500 – ten times this week’s total of 50 cases in the seven days up to Monday.

In the week to Saturday, 28 Covid outbreaks were recorded in the West, down from 36 the previous week. Eighteen of the new clusters were in private homes and nine were in extended family and community.

See full coverage in this week’s Connacht Tribune, in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition at www.connachttribune.ie

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Connacht Tribune

Galway mum’s support from home as toddler battles rare cancer

Denise McNamara

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Little fighter...Grace Bridges.

A Galway woman living in Sydney has been overwhelmed by the support shown by family and friends in her native Loughrea since her toddler Grace was diagnosed with a rare cancer last January.

“One of my friends said you can see Ireland with all the candles lighting for Grace,” reflects Emma Bane, over the phone from her child’s hospital bed which has become an all-too-familiar second home for the pair.

Yet still Grace fights, beating all the odds, as she approaches her second birthday on December 11. Metastatic Hepatoblastoma is so rare it affects one in a million children.

They returned to Westmead Hospital in the western suburbs of Sydney over a week ago after catching the common cold as her immune system is so compromised after 40 doses of chemotherapy.

Another 30 doses are planned.

“We call her our little warrior princess. She’s had three life-threatening trips to intensive care. When pathology looked at her blood sample her tumour markers were so high they couldn’t quantify them – they’d never seen anything like it. This is the third time we’ve been told she wouldn’t make it.”

Grace gets very sick when undergoing the chemo in 21 days cycles and usually has to be admitted due to severe diarrhoea and dehydration.

After her fifth surgery in September, oncologists warned that this latest round of chemo is her last chance at survival.

“They tell us to be hopeful and so far she’s beaten all the odds. That’s how amazing she is. She’s had 500 needles from February till October and 60 blood transfusions – she’s really been through the mill.”

As have Emma and her husband Adam Bridges.

 

There is a GoFundMe page set up to help with the cost of medical expenses. To contribute go to https://au.gofundme.com/f/grace-bridges

This is the correct address; there was a typographical error in the one which appears in this week’s paper and on the digital edition.

Read the full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune, in shops now. Or you can download our digital edition at www.connachttribune.ie

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