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Connacht Tribune

Plan for ill-fated Galway Bay salmon farm cost €525k

Dara Bradley

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A State agency poured more than half-a-million euro into a planning application for a licence for the ill-fated fish farm in Galway Bay.

Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) has come under fire for the “outrageous” spend on the project, which polarised opinion in the city and county.

Ireland’s seafood development agency this week confirmed it spent a total of €524,992 on the licence application for its controversial plans for a proposed 15,000 tonne salmon farm.

The cost has been described as “shocking” but BIM indicated it was money well spent on information that will be useful in future.

In December, 2015, BIM announced it was no longer proceeding with the application.

It cited new national legislation in relation to sustainable aquaculture, which capped the size of new fish farms to between 5,000 and 7,000 tonnes, more than half the size of the Galway Bay plan.

It had planned a twin site farm, one for smolts at Inis Oírr and another for more developed species off Indreabhán. BIM claimed the €60 million project would support 500 jobs locally.

However, it faced a wave of opposition.

Opponents said it was a crazy idea, and predicted environmental ruin and the destruction of inshore fishing industry and, as well as having detrimental impacts on shrimp, prawn, lobster, crab and oyster fishing, and also the fishing-related tourism industry.

BIM, in a parliamentary response to Clare Daly, the Dublin TD, confirmed it spent some €524,992 on its Galway Bay licence application.

Deputy Daly, the independent socialist, slammed BIM for the outlay.

“The spend of €524,992 by BIM on this doomed licence application is shocking, and questions have to be asked as to why they persisted with it for so long when there were such huge question marks over the whole project, and such opposition to it.

“The threat to wild fish stocks from sea lice, the dangers associated with farms’ nets breaking, and all of the other environmental impacts of this plan should have been a red flag, and it’s outrageous that over half a million euro was spent on trying to push this application through regardless. You’d very much have to ask why public money was put to such poor use,” said Deputy Daly.

In a statement to the Connacht Tribune, the agency gave more detail about the expenditure.

“BIM invested €524,992, over a four-year period, into the development of a robust application, including scientific analysis, public consultation and legal advice. A considerable amount of this information stands to benefit the organisation and form the basis of future support to the Irish aquaculture industry,” it said.

Meanwhile, Peter Heffernan, Chief Executive of Marine Institute, which is based in Oranmore, confirmed that his organisation also spent €21,948 on the initiative, which included over €9,000 for bird specialist advice; and a further €3,000 for training and simulation.

Simon Coveney, who was Marine Minister at the time the application was withdrawn, confirmed that his department spent a further €31,539 on the project.

That included €29,448 for legal advice, and €2,091 on expert hydrography advice.

Connacht Tribune

Branar reaching for skies at former airport

Judy Murphy

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Marc Mac Lochlainn, the director of Branar Téatar do Pháistí.

Lifestyle – The disused terminal at Galway Airport is being transformed for Sruth na Teanga, an immersive journey through centuries of Irish language and culture. Created by theatre company Branar, it was commissioned by Galway 2020 and will use puppetry, music, video and live performance to give audiences a fresh insight into the oldest vernacular language in Western Europe. Its creator and director, Marc Mac Lochlainn talks to JUDY MURPHY.

Entering the terminal of Galway Airport is like visiting the place that time forgot.

The desks for Avis and Budget Travel are still in place, exactly as they were when the facility closed nine years ago. So too are signs saying ‘Departures’ and ‘Garda and Customs only’, while the yellow pay-machines for the empty car-park stand abandoned by the main door and wind howls through the deserted building.

At the reception desk, a dog-eared copy of Dan Brown’s novel, Deception, is a lonesome reminder of the days when people thronged through this airport, carrying reading material for their flights.

“It’s a bit like the Mary Celeste,” says Marc Mac Lochlainn, the director of Branar Téatar do Pháistí with a mischievous grin. He’s referring to the American shipwreck that was found abandoned off the Azores in 1872, with everything perfectly intact but its crew missing.

At the height of Storm Brendan, with the rain lashing and wind howling, the space does feel eerie, but from March 2-29, thanks to Branar, it will become home to magical forests, streams and islands for one of the main events of Galway 2020 – European Capital of Culture.

Branar’s new show, Sruth na Teanga, was commissioned by 2020 as one of its flagship productions.  Now the theatre company has just over a month to transform the abandoned terminal building into a space for an immersive journey capturing the evolution of Western Europe’s oldest written, and still spoken, language. That language is Irish – a subject which caused so many people so much angst at school.

Marc is aware of this difficult legacy, but points out that Irish language and its culture far predates what has happened to it in the 20th Century at the hands of the Irish education system.

And that’s what Sruth na Teanga – based on the metaphor of a river – is all about. With puppetry, music, video mapping and live performance, it’s for children and adults and Marc hopes it will give people a fresh appreciation for Irish and its ongoing role in shaping us as a nation, through our place-names, our stories, our songs and the way we view the world.

Transforming the deserted airport terminal for this production will be no small feat but then Branar have never been short of ambition, as anyone who has seen their magical productions, such as How to Catch a Star and Woolly’s Quest, will be aware.

Sruth na Teanga has been evolving since 2015 when Galway first sought the European Capital of Culture designation and invited people such as Marc to dream big.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Corofin stand 60 minutes away from club football crowning glory

John McIntyre

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Corofin's Colin Brady is tackled by Paul Kerrigan of Nemo Rangers in the All-Ireland club semi-final. The reigning champions face Kilcoo of Down in Sunday's showdown at Croke Park.

IT’S a date with destiny like none other in the history of club Gaelic football. A team from Galway trying to go where no parish team has gone before.

Protecting a remarkable 35-match unbeaten run, Corofin stand on the threshold of becoming the first team to win three All-Ireland club senior titles on the trot.

It would represent a phenomenal achievement and the crowning glory for the Galway champions who have been such a compelling force over the past decade.

Standing in their way are All-Ireland final debutants, Kilcoo from Down, and while Corofin are red-hot favourite, the biggest occasion on the club GAA calendar has been littered with upsets down through the years.

It’s not in the nature of Kevin O’Brien’s charges to take anything for granted, however, and if they bring their A-game to Croke Park for the third year running, Corofin will have secured a cherished place in the record books on Sunday night.

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Connacht Tribune

Gardaí called to Beef Plan gatherings as internal row threatens future of movement

Francis Farragher

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Deputy Anne Rabbitte, standing on a chair, addressing last week's controversial Beef Plan meeting in Turloughmore. Photo: Courtesy Agriland.

THE ‘civil war’ that has engulfed the Beef Plan Movement over recent weeks looks set to continue into 2020 following controversial meetings in Turloughmore and in Tipperary during the past week.

An estimated 300 people turned out on Wednesday night of last week in the Turloughmore Social Centre for the Co. Galway AGM of Beef Plan but the meeting was disrupted amidst raucous scenes.

That meeting was eventually abandoned without any officers being elected with a Garda presence at the Turlough’ centre following the break-up of the meeting.

Meanwhile, on Friday night at Holycross in Co. Tipperary, Gardaí were also on duty at that county’s Beef Plan AGM where there was a strict monitoring of those entering the meeting by security personnel.

A group of people outside that meeting at the Old Abbey Inn – who also claimed to be Beef Plan members – did not gain entry to the meeting.

Last night (Wednesday) a reconvened Galway AGM of Beef Plan was scheduled to take place in the Ard Rí House Hotel, Tuam, where only Galway Beef Plan members would be admitted.

Outgoing Chairman of Galway Beef Plan and one of the four original directors of Beef Plan Movement Company, Kevin O’Brien, said that people had been brought in from many outside counties to disrupt the Galway AGM last week and confirmed that later in the night, there was a Garda presence at the centre.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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