A local campaign that has its roots at the time of the foundation of the State finally looks set to take a step forward, with a planning application being lodged for a major flood relief programme for South Galway.
Following a consultation process with landowners and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), Galway County Council has lodged a planning application with An Bord Pleanála for the works for the Dunkellin and Aggard Rivers.
Through the decades, the rivers have caused devastation for local homeowners, while thousands of acres of land are subject to extensive flooding each winter.
If given the go-ahead by An Bord Pleanála, work could begin next summer on the scheme.
Galway East Fine Gael TD, Ciarán Cannon, said the scheme would be the biggest-ever investment by the State in flood relief.
He told the Connacht Tribune: “I’m confident that planning permission will be granted and that the investment will be made by the Office of Public Works.
“This is a very important milestone in the process of bringing these works to fruition. Having been the subject of Dáil debates since the 1950s, the Dunkellin Flood Relief project is now edging closer to a final conclusion.
“We have never been this close before and we will continue to work hard in getting this project over the line. The team in the County Council have worked so diligently on addressing this challenge by actively engaging with local landowners and the NPWS to design the optimum flood relief programme and one which is very likely to receive planning permission from An Bord Pleanála.
“The planning process will take six to eight months and Council officials have indicated that once permission is granted they can immediately commence the tendering process for the works.
“All going well, we will see the works getting underway early next summer which is the preferred time for a project of this nature. If we get water moving freely and unimpeded along the Aggard and Dunkellin rivers from to the sea, this will address a major part of the flooding problem in South Galway.
“There are other flood relief projects proposed for the area which also need to be brought to fruition and I’m continuing to work on those with my colleagues in Government.
“I recall as a child hearing repeated calls for flood relief on the Dunkellin and each winter, as the flood waters claimed thousands of acres of farm land, the conversation would begin again. My colleague Brian Hayes was, up to recently, the Minister with responsibility for the OPW and he visited the area in April of this year. He met with many members of the affected communities and they all stressed the importance of bringing this project to a conclusion.
“Our new Minister, Simon Harris, also visited the area recently and again confirmed that it was a priority of his department to get works underway, but that major works couldn’t commence until planning permission had been granted. That’s why this week’s news of the planning application is so significant,” said Deputy Cannon.
Galway City Council to ‘review’ Kirwan junction
Councillors are demanding proof that the €5 million spent to transform Kirwan Roundabout into a signalised junction was money well spent – blasting the new junction as having created long delays and worsening rat-running.
A meeting of the local authority last week heard that while there was a general acceptance there would be ‘teething problems’ with the traffic-light junction after it became operational in July, ongoing issues were continuing to draw the ire of road users and local residents.
Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind) said he was one of five councillors on the previous Council to initially vote against the removal of the roundabout, based on fears that it would increase traffic through local residential areas – a fear that had been realised.
“What changes have been needed to be done since it went live,” asked the former Mayor, indicating that there had been little improvement.
Cllr Alan Cheevers (FF) said he understood that enhancement works were being done, but more were required.
“A lot of drivers are avoiding it and its driving traffic through the likes of Terryland Business Park. The Tuam Road is now gridlocked,” he said, calling on the Council to do a “PR exercise” to encourage drivers back to Kirwan.
Cllr Clodagh Higgins (FG) said the junction continued to confuse people and suggested that “overhead hanging signs” would be of assistance.
Green Party Councillor Niall Murphy said when the roundabout was slated for removal, it was promised that delays would be reduced by 25% and rat-running by 90% – but as yet, no evidence had been provided to show this.
“We need to put some science on this.
“The rat-running has moved to Dyke Road and there are some sections of that road where there are no footpaths, so it is quite dangerous for pedestrians,” said Cllr Murphy.
Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the meeting he believed there was a silent majority that were satisfied with the new junction.
He said that the junction’s ‘go live’ date was July 19, which coincided with the reopening of many parts of society that had been in lockdown due to Covid, and that had contributed to additional traffic.
“The first two objectives were to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety, and those objectives have been achieved.
“There will be a post project review – that is something that we always do and I would be happy to bring that back to Council for its consideration,” said Mr Finn.
Council Chief Executive Brendan McGrath confirmed that review was set to get underway.
“It will go through the various elements and if issues arise following the review, they will be addressed,” he said.
Thieves target cars as owners unload shopping bags
Galway shoppers have been advised by Gardaí not to leave their vehicles unlocked or unattended as they bring their shopping into their homes.
This follows reports in the Newcastle area of opportunist thieves ‘striking’ as the shopping bags were being moved into houses.
One resident told the Galway City Tribune that the thieves waited until the person had taken a bag of shopping from their cars to bring into their home.
“This gives the thieves a minute or two to have a quick look in the car – what they seem to be looking for are purses, bags or wallets that are left behind in the car,” the resident stated.
He added that some of local residents had notices two ‘youngish lads’ – possibly in their late teens or early 20s – hanging around the Newcastle Park Road area over the past week or two.
“I just think that people need to be on their guard for this kind of opportunist theft. They just wait until the driver goes inside the house with the shopping and before they come back out, they do a quick search of the car,” he said.
Galway Garda Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Michael Walsh, said that opportunist thieves would always be ‘on the look out for a handy theft’.
“What I would advise is that either have someone to keep an eye on the car when the shopping is being removed – or else lock the car each time, and don’t leave any cash or valuables in the vehicle.
“It might be an inconvenience to lock the car each time you go back into the house, but it is still far better than having something stolen from your vehicle,” said Sgt Walsh.
He also urged, that as a matter of routine, no one should leave any valuables in their cars when they parked them up.
“Even the coins that some people keep in car pockets for parking or other small payments can attract thieves. Never leave anything of value in your vehicles,” he said.
Boil water notice issued for Barna area
A boil water notice has been issued for the Barna area for health protection purposes
The areas affected are Barna Village, Truskey West and Truskey East, Barr Aille, Fermoyle, Ballard and along the Connemara Coast Road as far as Furbo, and on the Barna/Galway Road as far as Silverstrand.
The notice has been put in place due to issues with disinfection of the water at Tonabruckey Reservoir.
The notice affects approximately 2,300 people supplied by the Barna section of the Galway City West Public Water Supply area.
Customers in the area served by Tonabrucky Reservoir will notice increased levels of chlorine in their water supply in the coming days as we work to resolve the issue.
Vulnerable customers who have registered with Irish Water will receive direct communication on this Boil Water Notice.
Irish water, the City Council and the HSE will monitor the supply and will lift the notice when it is safe to do so.
In line with HSE Covid-19 advice and the requirement for frequent hand washing, Irish Water advises that the water remains suitable for this purpose and boiling the water is not required.