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Plan for new Galway Rape Crisis Centre building stalls



Plans for a purpose-built Galway Rape Crisis Centre in the Claddagh have stalled after the City Council raised a series of ‘red flags’ – including environmental and flooding concerns, an unsuitable building design and encroachment onto neighbouring properties.

The Council also pointed out that the proposals are not those which were discussed during consultations before the planning application was lodged.

In May, GRCC sought planning permission to demolish its “substandard” former premises at 7 Claddagh Quay and to construct a three-storey building.

However, concerns were raised by neighbouring property owners – one resident said his single storey cottage would have most of its natural light blocked by the three-storey building for most of the day.

The operators of the adjoining Creaven House – from where Galway Judo Club operates – said they support GRCC and the services the charity provides.

They claimed the new building would encroach onto their property and involve removing gutters and fascia boards and altering a lower roof of their property without consent.

They added that they raised these concerns with representatives of GRCC at a meeting in June and asked them to withdraw the current planning application and submit a revised one which did not include their lands or encroach on their property.

“We wish to inform the planning authority that we have not and do not consent to any part of the lands owned by Creaven House Ltd being included in the planning application by GRCC . . . we respectfully ask that their application be deemed invalid,” the submission reads.

The City Council asked GRCC to comment on the submissions from the neighbouring property owners and to submit revised drawings where necessary.

The local authority said that while the proposed usage of the building is acceptable in principle, the design is at variance to plans presented to the Council during pre-application consultations.

“[It] is considered to represent a major intervention to the urban fabric along Claddagh Quay and is of an unsuitable contemporary design, with particular regard to the form, roof profile, expansive glazing and external materials of the building.

“It is considered that the building does not integrate well with the fabric or historic setting of the local area and would not positively contribute to the visual integrity of the streetscape,” the local authority said.

The charity has also been asked to submit a report which demonstrates that the development would not have a significant adverse impact on adjoining protected ‘Natura 2000’ environmental sites

The Council noted that the groundwater in the local area has “high vulnerability”.

The local authority also pointed out that the site is designated ‘Flood Zone A’ in the City Development Plan, but a Flood Risk Assessment included with the application states it is largely within the lower-risk ‘Flood Zone B’, and has sought clarification and full details on any proposed defence measures, including a flood wall.

Clarification has also been sought on car and cycle parking, as no information was provided.

The Council told GRCC to revise the plans, giving them six months to make the submission or the planning application will be deemed to be withdrawn.

GRCC is now the second biggest rape crisis centre in the country – it offered more than 4,000 appointments to victims of sexual abuse and assault in Galway, south Roscommon and north Clare last year – and currently operates from The Lodge on Forster Street (part of the Magdalen complex) but has been asked to vacate the premises by July 2021.

“As Galway is a university city and we have a large transient college and tourist population, we have to reach to an ever-changing cohort of clients. Our centre has grown to become the second biggest in the country.

“Our present location is part of the Magdalen Laundry complex, which consists of the laundry and a residential building which had previously been occupied by the surviving ladies from the laundry. In recent years, the Sisters of Mercy assigned our lease to COPE Galway, who have asked for us to vacate and return the building to them by July 2021.

“This location, while quiet, is also full of memories with concealment, shame and guilt. Many of our clients and visitors alike have commented on how “hidden” the building is.

“The proposed design for the new centre will have a strong street presence and visibility. However, we in GRCC will always work to maintain our clients’ confidentiality and privacy at all times.

“As our [other] building in the Claddagh can no longer house our growing service in its present form, we are applying to the City Council for permission to create a secure home for both our clients and counsellors.

“We need the help and support of our planning officers in the Council to establish a forward-thinking, accessible and secure home for our clients. We need to give all the survivors of sexual abuse a place to come for counselling that is bright, modern and safe because they deserve it,” the planning application reads.
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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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Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years



From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
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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Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
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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