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CITY TRIBUNE

Payments to city councillors in Galway totalled €480,000 in 2017

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Galway City Tribune – Councillors earned more than €480,000 in salaries and expenses in 2017, according to newly-published Galway City Council figures.

This week’s Galway City Tribune publishes the full details of what each of the 18 city councillors were paid in allowances and expenses.

Fine Gael’s Pearce Flannery was the top claimant for the year with a total of €36,876 – he served as mayor for the second half of the year and expenses included trips to Chicago (a ‘sister’ city of Galway) and on to the Milwaukee Irish Festival.

The next highest earner was his party colleague, Padraig Conneely at €36,448, followed by Independent councillor Noel Larkin (who served as mayor for the first half of 2017), who was paid €34,206.

Galway’s 18 councillors cost the taxpayer a grand total of €480,591, which is over €18,000 more than the total of 2016. The comparative total for 2015 was €462,376.

The monies paid to councillors include an annual basic salary of €16,565 (which is subject to tax) and a further annual allowance of up to €4,390 depending on the number of local authority meetings which were attended by the individual councillor.

Councillors are also entitled to claim an allowance for their mobile phones, as well as for travelling expenses, overnight and subsistence expenses for travelling to conferences around the country. Councillors who serve terms as mayor can also expect to have international trips.

Those who Chair one of the City Council’s five Strategic Policy Committees (SPCs) – Housing; Transportation and Infrastructure; Economic Development and Planning; Environment and Recreation, Amenity and Culture also receive an allowance of €6,000 per annum.

Cllr Padraig Conneely was the most travelled of the councillors during the year with 25 trips – four to Dublin, three to Cork, two to Mayor, Laois, Donegal, Tipperary, Meath, Wexford and Sligo and separate trips to Clare, Louth, Leitrim, Wicklow, Mayo and Cavan.

The trips were made in his capacity as a councillor and also because he was elected as a delegate to other bodies including the Association of Irish Local Government (AILG) and the Local Authority Members Association (LAMA) and Lough Corrib Navigation Trustees.

During his time as mayor, Cllr Noel Larkin claimed more than €1,200 for a week-long trip to Boston, St Louis and San Francisco in the United States; €1,600 for a 10-day trip to Seattle and New York around St Patrick’s Day and €225 for a visit to Germany for the city’s designation as a ‘Green Leaf’ environmental designation.
For the full breakdown on payments to all 18 city councillors, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

CITY TRIBUNE

Council rows back on ‘reduced delays’ projections for Kirwan junction

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists have described it as ‘a disaster’ and a former mayor has said the project gave very poor value for money, but Galway City Council have this week asked the public to be patient with the revamped Kirwan junction, close to the Menlo Park Hotel.

Since the four-arm signalled junction opened early last week, motorists have complained of traffic queues stretching back to the Quincentenary Bridge and Corrib Park.

And now the Council has rowed back on its consultants’ claims that the junction would increase capacity by 15% and reduce waiting times by 25%.

Former mayor and local taxi driver, Cllr Frank Fahy, told the Galway City Tribune that given the negative impact of the junction on traffic, the €5 million spent on the project represented ‘very poor value’ as regards taxpayers’ money.

“I will admit that the junction is now safer for pedestrians in that they can hit a button to give them a safe crossing, but since it opened there have some very serious traffic tailbacks,” said Cllr Fahy.

However, City Council Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the Galway City Tribune that the new junction needed time to ‘bed in’ with a familiarisation process.

“The main objectives of this project were to make far safer for pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate, as well as making it safer for motorists too, without impacting [negatively] on the traffic flow,” said Mr Finn.

He added that since it opened – and over the coming few weeks – data on all aspects of how the junction was functioning would be compiled which could involve changes to light sequencing, lanes and peak traffic flows.

One motorist who contacted this newspaper said that the daily “nightmare” journey from the Barna Road to the Headford Road during the morning peak traffic time had added up to 40 minutes to his journey time.

“The two lanes are regularly gridlocked from the junction, back the N6, over the Quincentenary Bridge and back to Corrib Park.

“In the mornings, it’s now easier to go down Taylor’s Hill and into town, past Eyre Square and up Bohermore to get down to the Headford Road.

Councillors were told by consultants in 2017 and again in 2018 – when they voted to proceed with the changeover to a junction – that average delays would be reduced by 25% and junction capacity would increase by 15%.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Man hospitalised following Eyre Square assault

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Gardaí have appealed to the public for information into an assault in Eyre Square last weekend which led to a young man being hospitalised.

The victim of the assault – a man in his early 20s from the city area – suffered a cut to his knee and may have had a substance sprayed towards his eyes.

Following the incident – that occurred close to the Eyre Square taxi rank shortly after midnight on Saturday night last – the victim was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Galway.

It is understood that the victim was released later that morning and has made a full recovery. This week, Gardaí are poring over CCTV footage in an effort to try and identify the perpetrators of the assault.

The assailants are understood to have fled on foot after the incident towards St Patrick’s Avenue on the east side of Eyre Square.

A Garda spokesperson has appealed for anyone who was in the vicinity of the taxi rank on Eyre Square between 12 midnight and 12.30am on the Sunday morning (Saturday night) of July 25 last, and who may have witnessed the incident to contact them.

(Photo: the assailants fled on foot towards St Patrick’s Avenue off Eyre Square)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Council turns down controversial phone mast plan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Galway City Council has refused an application by Eircom to erect a 12-metre telecoms mast in a housing estate in Knocknacarra.

The local authority turned down the company’s application for planning permission to install the structure in the heart of Drom Óir over concerns that it would create a visual obstruction in a residential area – and would have a detrimental impact on property prices.

Eircom had also sought retention to keep a concrete foundation for the mast in situ after it was forced to abandon works earlier this year, amid protests from residents in Drom Óir and Leitir Burca. This was also rejected.

City planners issued the company with a warning letter in April to cease works after contractors on site drew the ire of nearby residents, who accused Eircom of seeking to install the mast ‘by stealth’.

A total of 26 letters of objection were submitted to the Council from residents of the two estate.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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