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Planners query scale of school extension



Planners have asked Our Lady’s College on the Presentation Road to justify why it needs such a big extension and to outline how it intends to reduce car usage among parents and staff given the large increase in traffic it would generate on an already constrained site.

The project, which the school claims will accommodate 420 students in the future with over 50 staff, will allow the relocation of the remaining students and staff currently located at the former Mercy secondary school site at Newtownsmyth.

Our Lady’s College is a merger of the Mercy and Presentation secondary schools.

In a letter to the Galway City Tribune, local resident Paul Flynn said 70 families on the Presentation Road, Mill Street and Canal Road objected to the extension, claiming it is a waste of public money as just 275 students are likely to be enrolled.

“Student numbers are now at 324. Only 31 students did the entrance exam in February and about 80 students are leaving. There is no student attending Our Lady’s College that lives within 1km, maybe even 2km radius of the school . . . Galway City has enough voluntary Catholic schools and, as a city, we need an Educate Together Secondary School. Why waste more public money on something that is not needed?”

Residents, whose objection was lodged out of time and not accepted by the planners, argue it will increase traffic and pollution and that the size and height of the building is excessive.

In its request for further information, the school has been asked to provide an overview of the operation of the existing school buildings on site, outlining student numbers, staffing and vehicle access. They have also been asked to provide an in-depth road safety audit given that “the proposed development gives rise to significant traffic and pedestrian safety concerns on a site that is already constrained”.

“Particularly, the proposal to increase private car movements on site, by virtue of the proposed vehicle access arrangements, which includes a one way traffic system, including drop off.”

The planners have criticised the lack of measures to encourage sustainable transport measures and use of public transport.

They said that the school’s mobility management plan had “a target of only 11%” reduction in private car use by parents”, which it said was unsustainable. The target increase of 4% in bicycle use was not sufficient and pointed out no cycle parking was proposed.

“It is noted that no targets are set for staff members, which is considered to be unacceptable/inappropriate. With a staff compliment of approximately 60, the figure provided of 72% of staff using private cars has the potential to result in at least 43 cars on site.”

The school predicted it would have 420 students in the future with over 50 staff. The planners point out that the existing site has little or no PE space and the extension does not propose any.

“The lack of any internal or external physical education spaces does not accord with national post-primary school design guidelines.”

The application had no assessment of its impact on the Corrib or the canal and had not submitted a flood risk assessment.

They have been asked now to provide expert reports on these as well as a heritage impact assessment of the protected building.

Ceist (the Catholic Education and Irish Schools Trust), the operators of the school, has sought permission for a three-storey extension to accommodate three classrooms, a new science lab, business studies room, technology rooms, preparation rooms and toilets.

The new building is proposed for the northern end of the 1960s structure on the school grounds, and will involve the removal of a pre-fab classroom to adjacent to the canal; removal of a storage and toilet enclosure under the 1960s building and removal of a pre-fab classroom adjacent to the primary school building.

The 20th century railings on the boundary wall south of the primary school will also be removed.

According to an architectural impact statement included with the application, while the development will be in close proximity to four protected structures [at the Presentation Convent and St Joseph’s Church], no historic fabric will be lost, with the sole exception of a limited area of limestone wall, which will be of limited significance.

“This overall school site has evolved significantly, particularly from the mid-20th century onwards. The proposed extension is considered to be in scale with the existing 1960s structure, and will facilitate the sensible natural evolution of a secondary campus with no detrimental effect on the four protected structures within its immediate vicinity,” the report reads.

A new site entrance has been developed adjacent to St Joseph’s Church on Presentation Road.


Drinks set to flow again in two landmark Galway premises



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Two popular Galway pubs that had been closed are to be given a new lease of life by an extended family.

The refurbishment of the former Central Bar in Woodquay has been almost completed and new owner Michael Gilmore will open the doors this weekend – just in time for the busy Christmas season.

The pub, in recent years known as The Lough Inn, had closed during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Mr Gilmore is a well-known publican in the city, running the Cellar Bar on Eglinton Street and Seven on Bridge Street. He also has a pub in the heart of Westport called An File.

Earlier this year his two nephews, Mark and Vinny Gilmore, bought Kelehan’s in Bushypark. They are overseeing a major overhaul on the large premises after many years behind closed doors.

Due to setbacks with building supplies, a planned opening by Christmas has now been pushed back until the spring.

This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the December 9 edition of the Galway City Tribune.  You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Warning to parents after Galway homes raided in child sexual abuse material investigation



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A senior Garda, who heads up Galway’s Protective Services unit, has advised parents to ‘tune into’ the daily dangers lurking on the internet in relation to child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

Detective Inspector Peter Conlon – who confirmed that four search warrants had been issued to search residences in the city over recent weeks for CSAM – urged all parents and guardians closely monitor their children’s access to the internet.

He told the Galway City Tribune it was critical that parents did not allow their children ‘unfettered access’ to the internet given the prevalence of sexual predators – often from other jurisdictions – who were trawling the net to make contact with children.

“Children may believe that they are making contact with other children but instead it may be adults seeking to establish a relationship with them and to get pictures of them.

This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article, see the December 9 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can support our journalism by buying a digital edition HERE.

“I would ask all parents to seriously and carefully consider the age at which they should give mobile phones to their children – any such decision needs to be age appropriate and where this happens it needs to be monitored closely by the parents,” said Det Insp Conlon.

He also said that parents and guardians should acquaint themselves, where practical, with the latest technologies which make it possible for them to be linked into their children’s phone or devices to monitor content and contacts at all times.

The searches in the city over the past two weeks resulted in the seizure of laptops and other electronic devices from three residences – they are currently being examined in detail by Garda technical experts at their regional HQ in Renmore. Det Insp Conlon said that while there had been no arrests in the city following the latest searches, the course of their investigations would be determined by the content and material found in the devices seized.

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Just 85 affordable homes to be built in Galway City by 2025



From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  A total of just 85 affordable homes will be built in Galway City during the remainder of the Government’s lifetime, it was revealed during a debate in the Seanad this week.

An animated Senator Ollie Crowe (FF) told Seanad Éireann that there would be “riots on the streets of Galway” at the disappointing news that was imparted to him by a junior minister.

In the Dáil, Junior Housing Minister, Malcolm Noonan, confirmed that it was planned to provide 85 affordable homes as part of a Merlin Woods development between now and 2025.

He understood that there were sites identified for affordable housing schemes in other parts of the city, but no applications had been received for funding.

“Housing delivery in Galway City Council is a matter for Galway City Council and it is down to the local authority to strike the balance in respect of social and affordable housing delivery.

“If the Senator feels that the local authority is not delivering enough in that regard, it is really a matter for them to drive a more ambitious agenda. The Department will not be found wanting in funding schemes,” Minister Noonan added.

But Senator Crowe yesterday told the Galway City Tribune that it was an incredibly disappointing and unacceptable answer that there would only be 85 new builds when it came to affordable homes.

(Image: Minister Malcolm Noonan said the new Merlin Woods development will include 85 affordable homes).
This is a shortened preview version of this story. To read the rest of the article,  see the December 9 edition of the Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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