Date Published: 01-Jun-2011
Just a few months into the term of office of the new Fine Gael-Labour government and it has been a particularly torrid start for Galway West’s new TDs – Brian Walsh and Sean Kyne (FG) and Derek Nolan (Lab).
The national opinion polls may say the government is more popular, but the spotlight has fallen on them because at issue is the future of Galway Airport, which seems doomed if the government does not come up with funding for ongoing running costs.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar, who might be kindly described as ‘the most directly spoken’ among the Cabinet, has said that there is not funding to support the airport. The airport authorities said initially they needed €1.7million this year.
Suddenly, the three new TDs hardly had their bums on those seats in Leinster House – one of them a gain from Fianna Fail as they knocked out FF’s Frank Fahey – and they were being asked difficult questions back home in the constituency over a key piece of infrastructure that many see as crucial to city’s future.
The situation in which they find themselves brings me back once more to the famous remark of Seamus Brennan in the Dail to TDs who found themselves in government – ”ye’re playing senior hurling now, lads.”
Galway Airport first had said that it needed a €1.7million subvention for this year, but, following a lot of work both by the airport and TDs, and a huge re-working of the airport figures and projections, this was reduced to €1.2million. I understand that a large part of the re-working was on the basis of a major increase in traffic.
However, this €1,2million was still twice the total national funding which Varadkar had for potentially three airports – Galway, Sligo and Waterford.
The word in government circles is that this is just one of many cuts in spending which will have to be carried through and they are not going to re-visit cuts decided on by the previous government.
But there is no point now in the present government pointing to a previous administration as regards cuts, especially as Eamon Ó Cuív TD (FF) pointed out in the past week that the Transport Department with its budget of well over €600million this year, must surely be able to find a million in its spending.
All this has upped the squeeze on the three TDs – Walsh, Kyne and Nolan – for whom the airport is at the heart of their vote area. The pressure mounting on them is coming from business and community.
Business leaders say the airport will close if funding is not forthcoming and it is crucial for the future of Galway, especially in the area of attracting new industry. Key industries are reputed to have said that the airport is crucial – but the Varadkar line up to now appears to be that he doesn’t have the money, Galway-Dublin is now well less than two hours by motorway, and that the airport is not being used anyway.
Of course, it was also a week in which we had the first major Fine Gael-Labour ‘spat’ of the present administration – with East Galway Labour TD Colm Keaveney hitting the national headlines when he said a very loud ‘no’ in the Dail to and intervention by Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton TD on the setting of wages in sectors such as hotels and catering.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Retail industry trade body welcomes B&Q announcement
Date Published: 07-May-2013
Retail Excellence Ireland, the country’s largest retail industry trade body, has welcomed the news that 60 jobs have been saved at the city branch of B&Q.
It’s after the home improvements store successfully exited examinership.
Under the scheme, 2.4 million euro is to be invested by parent company Kingfisher plc, and B and Q will continue to trade at eight stores
This means 640 jobs have been saved nationwide, including 60 at the outlet in Knocknacarra.
However, David Fitzsimons of Retail Excellence Ireland says landlords need to be willing to help out smaller retailers too.
Foundation reports nine Galway heart deaths each week
Date Published: 09-May-2013
Nine people die in Galway every week from heart disease and stroke.
That’s according to the Irish Heart Foundation, which is launching its Happy Hearts Appeal today. (9/5)
An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, launched the appeal today to help raise funds for the charity, which has seen increasing demand on its patient services.
The Foundation says it needs to raise at least half a million euro to maintain existing information services.
Call to tackle delays at Oranmore rail crossing
Date Published: 13-May-2013
Concerns have been raised over traffic delays at the railway crossing in Oranmore.
Councillor Jim Cuddy says he has received many representations from local motorists who have been experiencing extended delays.
He says the closed barrier can sometimes cause a traffic tailback as far as the roundabout near the Maldron hotel.
Cllr Cuddy has brought the matter to the attention of Iarnrod Eireann and has asked for an explanation as to why the crossing is closed for so long.