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CITY TRIBUNE

Politicians’ anger over vaccine passport

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Drinking legally in Woodquay. However, Gardaí say they have no powers to enforce breaches of guidelines when it comes to hospitality and 'outdoor space'. JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

The proposed passport system that could allow only vaccinated or Covid-19 immune people to dine or drink indoors from July 19 has been labelled as discriminatory and unworkable by Galway politicians.

“Shocking and unacceptable” was how Leas Ceann Comhairle, Catherine Connolly (Ind) described the proposed policy, which was flagged last week after reopening of indoor hospitality was delayed due to fears over the Delta variant of Covid-19.

“When the Minister for Health (Stephen Donnelly) came out with a statement that only vaccinated people could go to restaurants, pubs and so on, I find that shocking and unacceptable. It lays bare the worth of the rhetoric to the effect that we are all in this together. We never have been,” she said.

EU Digital Covid Certificates are due to issue to vaccinated or immune people from July 12, to facilitate travel within the EU.

Government has flown a kite suggesting these might be used as passports to facilitate indoor dining but an official decision and exact details on this isn’t expected until next week.

Deputy Connolly said there was a lack of clarity about the digital passports, which would apparently be posted out via the Office of An Taoiseach. “I find the whole thing unacceptable,” added the Galway West TD.

Publican and Galway senator Ollie Crowe (FF) suggested passports for indoor dining were unworkable.

“I find the notion of the hospitality sector having to police who is coming into the business, and whether they are vaccinated, is just not going to work. I just don’t see it working,” he said.

He said antigen testing – which gives rapid results within minutes but has limitations – could facilitate indoor hospitality.

Senator Crowe said the hospitality sector has been “hammered” since March 2020, and the delay to reopening on July 5 was “the lowest point in the pandemic so far” for the industry.

The summer season allows these businesses to survive the dark and wet nights of winter, he added.

“Many businesses would take in as much in a week in July as they would in all of November.”

Senator Crowe said that 50% of the adult population had been vaccinated, including at-risk people, adding that “it is simply unacceptable that indoor hospitality remains closed”.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Concerns over reopening of Middle Arch on Tuesday

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A Galway City Councillor has given a cautious welcome but has also raised concerns over the reopening of the ‘Middle Arch’ beside the Claddagh Basin next Tuesday.

Access was closed to the public last May following requests from the Gardai due to large crowds that had gathered in the days previously amid fears of it becoming a serious health and safety risk.

The concerns were raised by Cllr. Niall McNelis who said that a cautious welcome should be given but that the possibility of closing it in evenings needs to be seriously looked at.

He said “The decision to close it was earlier in year was due to it had become an area where large groups had gathered drinking and had led to calls by locals that it had become a serious health and safety risk. The area also does not have safety barriers and this has led to persons falling into the water in the past.

“Recently there has been a large number of calls made that the area should be reopened and that public space be made available to the public.”

Cllr. McNelis also said that a cautious welcome should be given but that the possibility of closing it in evenings needs to be seriously looked at.

“We can not have the same scenes repeated as we did earlier this year and in previous years. House gardens and Claddagh church grounds were used as toilets and large amounts of litter mainly drink, was left behind. I have met a number of residents this weekend who are not happy with decision and calls have been made by them to have it closed in evenings by City Council and Gardai should assist in clearing area if needs be.

“We do not have enough Garda personnel to have proper policing in our city, we need more resources for the city to tackle and enforce anti social behaviour.

“I have met this week with Gardai and have been given assurances that this will be closely monitored and occasions such as exam results nights, freshers week and good weather will be monitored,” he said.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Council rows back on ‘reduced delays’ projections for Kirwan junction

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Motorists have described it as ‘a disaster’ and a former mayor has said the project gave very poor value for money, but Galway City Council have this week asked the public to be patient with the revamped Kirwan junction, close to the Menlo Park Hotel.

Since the four-arm signalled junction opened early last week, motorists have complained of traffic queues stretching back to the Quincentenary Bridge and Corrib Park.

And now the Council has rowed back on its consultants’ claims that the junction would increase capacity by 15% and reduce waiting times by 25%.

Former mayor and local taxi driver, Cllr Frank Fahy, told the Galway City Tribune that given the negative impact of the junction on traffic, the €5 million spent on the project represented ‘very poor value’ as regards taxpayers’ money.

“I will admit that the junction is now safer for pedestrians in that they can hit a button to give them a safe crossing, but since it opened there have some very serious traffic tailbacks,” said Cllr Fahy.

However, City Council Acting Director of Services for Transport, Uinsinn Finn, told the Galway City Tribune that the new junction needed time to ‘bed in’ with a familiarisation process.

“The main objectives of this project were to make far safer for pedestrians and cyclists to negotiate, as well as making it safer for motorists too, without impacting [negatively] on the traffic flow,” said Mr Finn.

He added that since it opened – and over the coming few weeks – data on all aspects of how the junction was functioning would be compiled which could involve changes to light sequencing, lanes and peak traffic flows.

One motorist who contacted this newspaper said that the daily “nightmare” journey from the Barna Road to the Headford Road during the morning peak traffic time had added up to 40 minutes to his journey time.

“The two lanes are regularly gridlocked from the junction, back the N6, over the Quincentenary Bridge and back to Corrib Park.

“In the mornings, it’s now easier to go down Taylor’s Hill and into town, past Eyre Square and up Bohermore to get down to the Headford Road.

Councillors were told by consultants in 2017 and again in 2018 – when they voted to proceed with the changeover to a junction – that average delays would be reduced by 25% and junction capacity would increase by 15%.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Man hospitalised following Eyre Square assault

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Gardaí have appealed to the public for information into an assault in Eyre Square last weekend which led to a young man being hospitalised.

The victim of the assault – a man in his early 20s from the city area – suffered a cut to his knee and may have had a substance sprayed towards his eyes.

Following the incident – that occurred close to the Eyre Square taxi rank shortly after midnight on Saturday night last – the victim was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Galway.

It is understood that the victim was released later that morning and has made a full recovery. This week, Gardaí are poring over CCTV footage in an effort to try and identify the perpetrators of the assault.

The assailants are understood to have fled on foot after the incident towards St Patrick’s Avenue on the east side of Eyre Square.

A Garda spokesperson has appealed for anyone who was in the vicinity of the taxi rank on Eyre Square between 12 midnight and 12.30am on the Sunday morning (Saturday night) of July 25 last, and who may have witnessed the incident to contact them.

(Photo: the assailants fled on foot towards St Patrick’s Avenue off Eyre Square)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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