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Connacht Tribune

Outrage over lack of consultation on traffic changes

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The removal of essential car parking spaces in Clarinbridge, as part of a planned traffic calming proposal for the village, would result in businesses shutting up shop, it has been claimed.

The grim prospect was put forward after a two-hour meeting to discuss the controversial plans which have been initiated by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), the former National Roads Authority.

Local councillors are outraged that TII representatives will not engage with them regarding potential changes to the traffic calming plans – they also face the prospect of losing funding for the project if they do not agree to the proposals as they stand.

The most controversial aspect of the plan is to provide a cycle lane which would automatically remove 12 car parking spaces in the village. This will also have an impact on parents picking up their children from the local primary school.

Cllr Martina Kinane, who resides in Clarinbridge, said that if the TII proposals were implemented, there would be little or no parking in the village for any motorists passing by. “It the parking spaces are removed, then they simply won’t stop”, she said.

At the moment there are around 21,000 vehicles passing through Clarinbridge on the N18 on a daily basis. It is expected that when the new Gort to Tuam motorway opens at the end of the year, these numbers will reduce to an estimated 14,000.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland are allocating €400,000 for the traffic calming measures but representatives from the body have declined to meet with either councillors or residents to discuss the matter. It has sparked fears that the funding may be lost if there is no agreement to their plans.

Residents and business interests want the traffic calming measures reviewed before they are allocated to a contractor. They want to see certain proposals changed so that they don’t impact negatively on the economic viability of the village.

However, they say that there are some good aspects to it as well including the provision of additional street lighting and footpaths while there are also plans to extend the speed limits on either side of the village.

Cllr Kinane said that she had requested a special meeting of the Athenry-Oranmore Municipal Council, whose area includes Clarinbridge, to discuss the proposed traffic calming plan. It lasted two hours without much progress.

“The purpose for convening the meeting was to seek support from my fellow councillors that the proposed traffic calming for Clarinbridge be put on hold until a resolution is reached regarding the removal of parking from the core of the village,” she explained.

The matter was due to come before a full meeting of Galway County Council for planning approval but that decision was adjourned. Cllr Kinane said that TII had not taken on board any of her concerns.

Under the proposed measures, it is planned to modify the Athenry Road junction on the Oranmore side of the village to make it safer. She wants the funding for this project alone to be ring-fenced in the event if a decision to abandon the present plan is taken.

The matter is due to be discussed again at length at a full meeting of the Athenry-Oranmore Municipal Council on this coming Tuesday.

Connacht Tribune

Community fights back on hospital ‘downgrade by stealth’

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Raw emotion, sadness and some anger filled the air at Clifden Town Hall on Sky Road last Sunday afternoon as a shaken community gave honest, personal accounts of the impact the closure by stealth of Clifden District Hospital would have on the people of North Connemara.

The public meeting was hastily organised after fears emerged on Friday that the HSE may transfer respite services from Clifden to Merlin Park Hospital, 50-plus miles away in Galway City.

Families were told their loved ones in Clifden Hospital may have to move home, or go to Merlin Park the following Monday, due to ‘issues with staffing’.

An axe has hung over Clifden Hospital for some years, but this latest move stirred the community to fight back to retain services locally.

Galway County Councillor Eileen Mannion (FG), who organised the public meeting with Senator Sean Kyne, said 625 people signed the attendance sheets and an estimated 650 people attended.

“The community effort spreading the word was unbelievable; the turnout was unbelievable,” she said.

“It wasn’t just anger; it was raw emotion in the room. Sadness. Family members spoke about the calls they got on Friday. The feeling that their elderly person was being rejected; that they weren’t being respected.

“One man stood up, three years waiting for respite care for a family member, and then to be told after a few days in there that she’d have to be taken home or to Merlin Park.

“We’re 50 miles from Galway. If there’s no traffic you might get to the outskirts in an hour but with the traffic in Galway, you could be another hour to get to Merlin Park. Not everyone has transport either and they’ve to rely on buses.

“A young woman stood up at the meeting and said her dad was dying in Galway. And she had to go to Saint Vincent de Paul to get money to pay for a B&B so that the family would be close to him when the end came. People gave their personal stories, and it was just heart-breaking.”

(Photo by Carmel Lyden: Teresa Conneely from Roundstone addresses people at the public meeting in Clifden Town Hall).

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read extensive coverage of the Clifden Hospital story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Pilgrim took to his feet to realise dream!

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Clifden man Breandan O Scanaill, who is on a pilgrimage from his home town of Clifden to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, received a Mayoral welcome and a memorial crest when he arrived at the Asturian town of Navia last week.

Breandan, whose walk from his home outside Clifden to the reputed burial place of St James in Santiago, began in April, was walking through Navia in Spain when a local man came over to chat to him.

“He asked me about my journey and was interested in the fact that an Irish man had turned up in the town,” says Breandan, who had been admiring the Chapel of San Roque at the time.

The local man outlined the history of the building and the town to Breandan and they began chatting more generally about history and architecture – topics dear to the pilgrim’s heart.

Breandán’s new friend introduced himself as the Mayor of Navia, lgnacio Garcia Palacios, who invited the visitor from Clifden to visit the Town Hall.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Local Property Tax rate to stay unchanged despite Council chief’s plea

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Councillors have agreed to keep the Local Property Tax (LPT) rate unchanged – despite pleas from management that Galway County Council is predicted to spend at least €22 million more than it brings in for the next two years.

County Chief Executive Jim Cullen had recommended an increase of 15% on the LPT rate for 2023 and 2024 – amounting to €2.1m extra in the coffers annually – which would bolster its case when it came to pleading for a greater share of funding from central government.

In an estimation of income and expenditure for the Council, taking into account “unavoidable” expenditure and income changes set to hit, the Council would run a deficit of €9.04m in 2023 and 13.2m in 2024 – well over €22m unless there was a change in finances.

“I am hopeful of an uplift in baseline [funding] levels . . . we cannot continue to ignore the fact that other councils have raised LPT and their citizens enjoy a better standard of services that in Galway,” he stressed.

He told a meeting this week that €9m would be needed to maintain services next year at the same level as 2022. This was due to significant cost increases given that inflation is reaching 9.6% currently. Pensions, gratuities and payroll increases from the national pay agreement, increments and additional staff were all adding to bigger outgoings.

Without that extra funding, it will be necessary to reduce spending by that amount with a negative impact on service and staffing levels, he said.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the story, including the councillors’ discussions, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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