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Owner seeks more time to redevelop Taaffes site



A city developer has sought an extra five years to redevelop the derelict Taaffes premises on William Street.

Planning permission for the redevelopment of the building to become entirely retail is set to expire next November.

Developer Gerry Barrett – who bought the premises in 2006 for around €20 million – told planners he was unable to secure finance for the project because of the collapse of the economy.

Spanish retail giant Zara had been looking at the premises as a possible location in Galway, but ruled it out in 2009, because of a three-year delay in securing planning permission and the economic downturn.

“The application was made in late 2008, with the planning process through An Bord Pleanála taking almost a year to November 2009, by which time, the entire economy and banking systems had unravelled.

“This included the availability of finance to allow the development to proceed.

“The climate of the economy is now looking more positive and it is hoped that the project may proceed in the medium term,” the application reads.

Galway City Council granted permission for the redevelopment project in 2009, but this was subsequently appealed by Derrick Hambleton of environmental watchdog group An Taisce, who expressed concerns about the shopfront.

When the Board finally approved permission – after refusing to accept its own inspector’s recommendation – the process had gone on too long for Zara, which informed Mr Barrett they were no longer interested in the premises.

Mr Hambleton was unapologetic about the role An Taisce played in the delays.

“An Taisce has been concerned for a number of years about the rapid change in character which has overcome Shop Street, Williamsgate Street and the other streets which make up Galway’s historic city core area.

“It is therefore unapologetic for the delays incurred in bringing forward any development at this important location. We would all look pretty stupid if we allowed any old development go-ahead, even if it is true that a major European chain of clothes boutiques is waiting to go in,” said Mr Hambleton.

A decision is expected from planners next month on whether to allow five more years for the project to be completed.


Elective surgeries cancelled at UHG as overcrowding continues



Galway Bay fm newsroom – Some non-urgent elective surgeries are being cancelled at UHG in a bid to tackle severe overcrowding at the city hospital.

It follows the issuing of a warning from the Saolta Hospital Group that the emergency department is extremely busy and there is ongoing pressure on bed availability.

General Manager at UHG, Chris Kane, says over 500 people presented at the hospital on Monday and Tuesday.

She says the overcrowding situation is very serious, particularly in relation to the ED, the Surgical Unit and the Acute Medical Assessment Unit.

Members of the public are urged to only attend the hospital in the case of emergency, and contact their GP or out-of-hours service if their health problem is not urgent.

Saolta is also reminding the public that the Injury Unit at Roscommon University Hospital is open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week, to treat adults and children over 5.

Speaking to Keith Finnegan on Galway Talks, Chris Kane said the current level of patients presenting is extremely high and “unusual” for this time of year.

She also noted there’s also been a rise in patients being treated for Covid-19, including in the ICU.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway rowers aim for Olympic gold!



Best of luck to two Galway rowers – Aifric Keogh of Aill an Phréacháin in Na Forbacha, and Fiona Murtagh from Gortachalla in Moycullen – who are part of Team Ireland’s Women’s Coxless Fours team who compete in an Olympic final in Tokyo at 1.50am (Irish time) Wednesday.

Coverage on RTÉ 2 television begins from 1am.

Ireland – who were second in their heat after Australia, who set a new Olympic Record – are in lane two, with Great Britain on their outside, and Australia, favourites for a gold medal, in lane three.

The Netherlands, China and Poland are in lanes four, five and six at the Sea Forest Waterway.

Poor weather meant some rowing events were re-scheduled but the Women’s Fours final was not impacted.

Jim Keogh, Aifric’s father, told the Tribune he was hopeful ahead of the final.

“To make the Olympics is tough, to make the final is tough, to make the medal is tougher,” he said.
Photo: Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty.

*Full coverage of the race and reaction in this week’s Connacht Tribune and Galway City Tribune 

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Connacht Tribune

Paedophile sentenced to a further 17 months in prison



A convicted paedophile, described by a Garda as ‘a prolific child abuser’, has had a 17-month prison sentence added to a 13-year sentence he is already serving for the rape and sexual abuse of children.

Disgraced primary school teacher and summer school bus driver, 69-year-old Seosamh Ó Ceallaigh, a native of Tuirín, Béal a’ Daingin, Conamara, had at all times denied two charges of indecently assaulting a ten-year-old boy at a Gaeltacht summer school in Béal a’ Daingin in 1979.

The offence carries a maximum two-year sentence.

A jury found him guilty by majority verdict following a four-day trial at Galway Circuit Criminal Court last month.

At his sentence hearing last week, Detective Paul Duffy described Ó Ceallaigh as a prolific child abuser who had amassed 125 child abuse convictions, committed while he was a primary school teacher in Dublin and while he operated an Irish language summer school in Beal a’ Daingin.

They included convictions for rape and sexual assault for which he is currently serving sentences totalling 13 years.

Those sentences were due to expire in August 2024, but last week, Judge Rory McCabe imposed two, concurrent 17-month sentences on Ó Ceallaigh, before directing the sentences begin at the termination of the sentences he is currently serving.

The judge noted Ó Ceallaigh’s denial and lack of remorse and the lifelong detrimental effect the abuse had on the victim as aggravating factors.

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