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Connacht Tribune

Plan to provide 30 berths at Lough Derg sinks



An imaginative initiative to attract angling tourists to South East Galway has sunk without trace after planners ruled on environmental grounds against the proposal to accommodate 30 boat owners.

County planners were told that the berthing facilities for 30 lake boats would have provided a new tourism attraction on Lough Derg – and it would also have the potential to service around 25 holiday homes around the lake.

Disappointed local FG councillor Jimmy McClearn said that it was another stumbling block in their efforts to bring more visitors to the area.

”I just think planners do not want anything to happen in rural Galway and this is another example”, he said.

He described it as “frustration beyond belief” and added that it was ironic that the anglers involved in the application for the berths had engaged in the collection of more than 90 tons of rubbish from woodland areas surround this particular part of the lake.

The application to Galway County Council was submitted by Woodford Anglers Association, who not alone fish the lake, but their members also carry out vital environmental works in the area as well as maintaining the rivers in order to develop fish stocks.

They have been to the forefront of this local tourist industry for several years.

However, their application for the berths was not supported by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) for environmental reasons. Consequently Galway County Council refused planning permission for the plan.

It is understood that the anglers are to engage with the NPWS over the coming weeks to discuss their concerns. They are confident that the works that are involved in the construction of the boathouse, which will accommodate the 30 berths, will meet their approval.

A submission to the planning application stated that it would have to be built on a solid concrete base adjacent to the lake and a Special Area of Conservation and significant excavations will be taking place at this location but that there are no details of the volumes of the materials that will be excavated or how they will be disposed.

In refusing planning permission, county planners ruled that the development would have an adverse impact on the integrity of the Lough Derg Special Area of Conservation and would set an undesirable precedent for similar future developments.

They said that it would pose an unacceptable risk to the surface waters on the lake as well as resulting in an unacceptable degradation of a protected habitat and species in the area. They also took issue with the access road to where the boats would be berthed and believed that it would create a traffic hazard.

Planners added that because of the scale of the marina-style development, it would result in a dominant and overbearing form of development and would not fit appropriately or integrate effectively into this highly sensitive lakeshore site.

Cllr Jimmy McClearn told the Connacht Tribune that every effort was being made to promote tourism in South East Galway and Lough Derg was obviously “part and parcel of this”.

He said that the region had been decimated in terms of population and this was one small way to try and address the problem.

“The anglers are an integral part of the whole area and they, more than most, are conscious of protecting the environment. To suggest anything different is way off the mark. If anything, what they are proposing will have a beneficial effect for both the environment and local tourism,” Cllr McClearn added.

Connacht Tribune

Galway Lotto prize winner off to see the King!



A National Lottery player from Conamara is still in disbelief after claiming their EuroMillions ‘Ireland Only Raffle’ ticket worth a staggering €1,005,000 this week – and is already planning a trip to Graceland!

The player, who wishes to remain anonymous, said they didn’t realise they had the winning ticket.

“I was looking at my ticket and it didn’t have any of the EuroMillions numbers, I didn’t think I’d won anything, so I threw it somewhere in the car. I completely forgot to check the raffle code on the bottom of the ticket!

“A few weeks later I decided to do a clear out of the car and I found the ticket wedged down the side of the seat. I scanned the ticket on the app and called the National Lottery Claims Team and that’s when they told me I was a millionaire! I couldn’t speak, I was in such complete and utter shock!

“I had a plan to surprise my wife for her birthday by putting the cheque in the card, but my great plan lasted all of one hour, I just had to tell her, I couldn’t keep it a secret any longer!”, they added.

The player purchased the winning EuroMillions ticket worth €1,005,000 on the day of the draw, Friday 19th August, in Costcutter in Beal an Dangan.

They revealed some plans they hope to achieve with the new life-changing prize.

“We’ve always wanted to go to Graceland in Memphis to visit the home of Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll himself. That’s all we have in mind for the moment, we’re still letting it all sink in”, they said.

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Connacht Tribune

Exhumations to begin next year at Tuam Mother and Baby Home site



A full exhumation of the bodies of children buried in the grounds of Tuam Mother and Baby Home will begin in 2023.

A ‘Director of Authorised Intervention’ is to be appointed by Government to oversee the excavation of the site where it is believed almost 800 children were interred in an unmarked grave.

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman, in bringing matter before the Dáil, said it was incumbent on the State to address what was “a stain on our national conscience”.

Deputy Catherine Connolly, TD for Galway West, said while the news on the exhumation was welcome, she had “lost faith” in the Government which she said had “learnt absolutely nothing” and had to be “dragged” every step of the way.

It had failed to bring forward a redress scheme for survivors of the home, she said, and Minister O’Gorman had rowed back on a previous commitment to have an independent human rights review of the testimony provided by survivors to the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes.

“I don’t think he should ever have promised that because he was never in a position to do it. He was never going to question the establishment narrative given to us by the three wise commissioners, the narrative that told us that the evidence of those who came forward was contaminated and should therefore be treated with caution,” said Deputy Connolly.

“We continue to begrudge and to do everything belatedly. If we are seriously interested in redress, let us do it right.”

Paying tribute to those who shone a light on the wrongdoings in the Tuam Home and elsewhere, Deputy Connolly said it was they who had forced the Government’s hand.

“On the ground, we have seen Catherine Corless and, well before her, Mary Raftery. I also want to mention Patricia Burke Brogan [activist and playwright] who died last week – may she rest in peace – with regard to the work she did in respect of the Magdalen laundries, in particular with the play Eclipsed.

“The groups on the ground have certainly forced us and dragged us every step of the way,” she said.

Agreeing, Minister O’Gorman said it was absolutely right to recognise critical the role of Tuam historian, Catherine Corless.

“We would not be here today but for her dogged persistence in highlighting what happened in Tuam.

“Deputy Connolly mentioned the redress legislation. This legislation has been worked on by my Department over the summer and I will bring it to Cabinet in October to seek approval for the final Bill and to bring it rapidly through the Houses [of the Oireachtas] and the committee, so that we can provide redress to family members,” he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Seán Canney, TD for Galway East, said what had happened had impacted the people of Tuam deeply and said the Director, when he or she is appointed, should be based in Galway and seek to engage with locals during the excavation process.

“It has created a sense of a stain on, or a shadow over Tuam as a town. Tuam is a very good town and has the finest people living there.

“The Minister has set out in his speech how a Director would be appointed . . . and that an office will be set up to manage the excavation and all that goes with it. However, it is important that there is local engagement with the people of the town,” said Deputy Canney.

“The office should be set in the town and there should be a liaison aspect to the brief that this director will have so people from the locality who want to know what is going on can find out,” he continued, adding that locals should be able to meet the Director in Tuam and not Dublin or anywhere else.

Minister O’Gorman outlined that the Director would oversee a phased forensic-standard excavation, recovery, analysis and re-interment of the remains.

“The order also provides that the Director will carry out an identification programme as an additional function for the intervention,” he said.

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Connacht Tribune

Customs ‘dip’ for green diesel on Aran island



Revenue officers made an unannounced visit to Inis Mór last week – with around 10 customs officials performing spot checks for marked diesel.

The Connacht Tribune understands that three motorists were nabbed by the officers for driving with ‘green diesel’ – a fuel only permissible for off-road use, mainly in agriculture.

According to a source in Revenue, this surprise visit is a return to normal service, with spot checks having stalled during Covid.

As part of the operation, customs officers were drafted in from various locations and travelled to the island without prior notice to Gardaí.

Having arrived by ferry from both Galway Docks and Ros a’ Mhíl, officers performed a number of checks at the Pier in Kilronan and also visited Dún Aonghasa.

Vehicles were dipped for green diesel for which tax is paid at a much cheaper rate than road diesel. Those convicted of using marked diesel on the roads face a maximum fine of up to €5,000.

A garda spokesperson confirmed that a group of Revenue officers visited Inis Mór on Friday, September 16, and were facilitated by gardaí on the island.

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